Archive for the ‘graphic novels’ Tag

Kolchak Meets Poe in New Graphic Novel   Leave a comment

kolchak

By C. Michael Forsyth

Before there was The X Files and Supernatural, there was Kolchak: The Nightstalker, and before H.P. Lovecraft, there was Edgar Allan Poe. Both these wellsprings of the macabre fueled my imagination when I was a teenager, and it is a delight to see them combined in a recent graphic novel.

In Kolchak, The Night Stalker: Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe, the intrepid monster-chasing reporter played by Darren McGavin in the 1974-1975 TV show, is back in action, knee-deep in paranormal mysteries revolving around tales by Poe—the grandfather of the weird short story. The writer, James Chambers, does a smashing job of recapturing the personality of the determined underdog, as well as the show’s storytelling style. In the book, Kolchak has a series of adventures, each playing off of a Poe story, including The Telltale Heart, The Premature Burial, the Black Cat, the Tomb of Ligeia and The Masque of the Red Death. These episodes, while satisfying reads individually, are all linked by a narrative that runs through the graphic novel—concerning a magician obsessed with Poe. There are plenty of nuggets to please Poe fans, such as a character named Annabelle Lee.

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REPORTER Kolchak hasn’t lost his knack for uncovering the uncanny.

Carl Kolchak is unchanged, still sporting his signature rumpled white suit and straw hat. He has made a few concessions to 2017. Instead of his old tape recorder and typewriter, he travels with a laptop that he uses to Skype his boss, the grumpy Tony Vincenzo. An interesting touch is that three different artists with distinct styles contributed to the book, depicting the character with varying degrees of success. Between Luis Czerniawski, Felipe Kroll and Jim Fern, I think the last does the best job in nailing McGavin’s mischievous Irish face. To me, the actor resembled a less-handsome Sean Connery.

Darren Best

ICONIC Kolchak was only on TV for one year.

I was a huge fan of the series, in which Kolchak, a reporter for the fictional INS wire service, investigated crimes that invariably turned out to have a supernatural cause. The police were useless, either refusing to believe anything abnormal was going on, or getting tossed about like rag dolls by whatever creature happened to be wreaking havoc that week. So, the plucky journalist always had to take matters into his own hands and dispatch the monster.

In the course of the show, Kolchak’s investigative reporting turned up vampires, werewolves, mummies, doppelgangers and many other of the usual unusual suspects. What made the show so great was McGavin’s character: sly, streetwise, with a sense of humor. I often thought that Kolchak would be fun to follow even if there were no supernatural element and he was doggedly exposing crooked politicians and solving ordinary crimes.

Although the iconic character was McGavin’s best work and is his chief legacy as an actor, he wasn’t satisfied with the show, despite rewriting many scenes himself, and bailed after one season. He was principally frustrated with the monster-of-the-week aspect of the show. This was, indeed, its main weakness. It was never explained why Kolchak “just happened” to stumble onto the supernatural on a regular basis. Chris Carter, creator of The X Files, cites The Night Stalker as his biggest source of inspiration. And in his show that problem is solved: his heroes’ job is hunting the paranormal.

As a kid watching The Night Stalker, I came up with my own explanation that is as good as any. Kolchak, although he doesn’t know it, has been appointed by some higher power to be a champion of good, a white-suited knight battling the darkness.


Check out works by this reviewer, including the horror novel Hour of the BeastHERE.

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In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

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Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London: A Review   Leave a comment

sherlock-vamp-1

By C. Michael Forsyth

Years ago, in college, I was midway through the book Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman, when I enthusiastically told my roommate I was reading a novel about the pair butting heads.

“So am I,” he marveled, holding up his dog-eared paperback copy of The Holmes-Dracula Files by Fred Saberhagen. Two books on the same theme, by authors who took the premise in entirely different directions. It turns out the great detective has had multiple literary run-ins with the Lord of Darkness over the years. A clash of the contemporaries was inevitable. They are the two most enduring characters in fiction – one the epitome of Victorian rationality, the other the embodiment of its dark, sensual counterpart.

Purists object to any Holmes tale involving the supernatural, but the possibility of the hero venturing off his usual turf appeals to me. And the more, the merrier. I’d love to see a three-way mashup, where Sherlock and Tarzan team up to battle Dracula in Africa!

Dracula does not make an appearance in the entertaining graphic novel Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London, but the sleuth does face some equally implacable foes, principally the aristocratic vampire Lord Selymes.

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UPPERCRUST VAMPIRE Lord Selymes is the perfect host.

 

The story is set in 1891, during Sherlock’s hiatus after his supposed death fighting Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. A rogue vampire has been viciously murdering prominent Englishman, for reasons unknown. Selymes, with the help of his legion of bloodsucking minions, coerces a reluctant Holmes into tracking the fiend down. The “stakes” are high. If the killing spree doesn’t stop, Queen Victoria – who tolerates vampires in her realm – will have no choice but to order their extermination.

The writer Sylvain Cordurie is faithful to Conan Doyle, when it comes to Holmes’ personality and methods. The detective relies on his powerful intellect to defeat his undead foes. In one clever move, he imbibes holy water to dispatch a vampire who makes the mistake of biting him. The detective’s expertise in chemistry also plays a critical role in the story.

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BOTTOMS UP: Holmes uses his brain to get the better of a bloodsucker.

 

Watson, as yet unaware that Holmes is alive, is not aboard for this adventure. The story is told as a memoir Holmes writes to his friend. The doctor’s absence is sorely felt; now I understand why Conan Doyle gave his cerebral hero a companion to begin with. Holmes, true to form, is emotionally detached throughout, whereas Watson’s reactions – terror, revulsion, disbelief – would have added another dimension to the tale. As it is, the book has a somewhat dispassionate tone. In fact, the writer doesn’t even include a moment in which the logical Holmes is shocked to learn of the existence of vampires. He’s pretty “sanguine” about the blood-drinkers, pardon the pun.

Irene Adler, the woman Sherlock became smitten with in A Scandal in Bohemia, does appear in vampire form – or rather her lookalike appears. You see, the real Irene apparently died two years earlier. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. SPOILER ALERT: The vampire is not Irene. The writer missed a golden opportunity here to offer Holmes an irresistible temptation.

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Sherlock’s only love interest IRENE ADLER is back — or is she?

 

The artist Laci does a crackerjack job depicting fog-enshrouded 19th century London, with attention to details of architecture and costume. Colorist Alex Gonzalbo’s use of a limited palette contributes to the grim atmosphere. I wasn’t crazy about how Holmes was drawn, however. His facial expression rarely changes, and while we know he is coldly logical, we want human reactions at critical points. I was also disappointed that Irene’s double is not more alluring. Irene had sex appeal to spare – shouldn’t a vampire version be more vampy?

I also have a beef with the dimensions. The book was originally published in France at 12.5 x 9 inches, but the  U.S. version put out by Dark Horse is reduced to a stingy 10 ½ x 7 inches. The panels look cramped, and some of the drama and beauty of the art is lost. I would have enjoyed the reading experience more in a larger format.

If you like stories that blend Conan Doyle and the paranormal, you might enjoy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in The Adventure of the Spook House, by C. Michael Forsyth.

HOUDINI Front Y

Houdini and Conan Doyle investigate a bizarre disappearance in new book.

Researchers’ Reckless Plan to DRINK THE BLOOD OF DRACULA!   2 comments

By C. Michael Forsyth

BOTTOMS UP? Would YOU have the guts to guzzle Dracula blood from this bottle?

BOTTOMS UP? Would YOU have the guts to guzzle Dracula blood from this bottle?

In what critics have branded “the most reckless scientific undertaking in half a century,” three maverick researchers are preparing to drink the blood of Vlad the Impaler – the historical Dracula.

If all goes well, the trio will prove once and for all that Vlad was no vampire – but if it fails, experts fear the trio could become vampires themselves.

“This so-called experiment is shockingly arrogant and foolhardy,” blasts Romanian folklorist Costica Popescu. “The risk is not only to them. They could unleash a vampire plague that sweeps through the entire region in a matter of weeks.”

But German researchers Albrecht Holtzmann, 54. Leopold Koertig, 44, and Johanna Eichelberger, 37, insist that nothing could go wrong.

“We are taking every conceivable precaution,” Holtzmann assured reporters. “We will be properly restrained and security staff will be on hand, equipped with crucifixes and holy water in the unlikely event that something extraordinary occurs.

“If we’re right, we’ll prove to the world that Dracula was not a vampire, clearing his name. But if we’re wrong, the scientific community will have a unique opportunity to examine these mysterious, marvelous creatures the world knows as vampires.”

The strange scientific saga began in 2002 when a small bottle sealed with wax and labeled “Blood of Vlad Dracul-a of Wallachia” was discovered beneath the ruins of a deconsecrated church in Romania. The site – just 35 miles from Castle Poenari, the legendary stronghold of the 15th century warlord — was being excavated by archaeologists. DNA tests conducted on the contents in 2008 and compared to living descendants of Prince Vlad found an 87% chance the blood was indeed that of the notoriously brutal ruler.

“It was all very puzzling,” explains science writer Hans Fruehaul. “The vast majority of historians say that Vlad, while widely described as ‘bloodthirsty’ in texts from his time, did not literally drink blood. It is generally believed that Bram Stoker, the author of the famous novel Dracula, merely borrowed the name and background of the historical figure for his book. But there are a handful of experts who disagree, insisting that Prince Vlad was a bona fide vampire. And the fact that the bottle of his blood was found at a site known to be a gathering place for devil-worshippers in the late Middle Ages did give some credence to that assertion.”

BLOODTHIRSTY 15th century warlord Vlad the Impaler.

BLOODTHIRSTY 15th century warlord Vlad the Impaler.

Controversy arose when the German lab where the genetic testing was conducted refused to return the blood, instead transferring it to a vial where it has remained stored in a refrigerated compartment for the past seven years. When Holtzmann, the lab’s director, announced on June 2 his team’s plan to sip the blood, he was met with a firestorm of criticism. There have even been calls for the government to put an evacuation plan in place for the area in the event that things go awry.

But the researchers have adopted a lighthearted — some say frivolous — attitude to the risky venture. They plan to take sips of the blood exactly on midnight next December 1, believed to be the anniversary of Vlad’s birth.

Said Holtzmann, “We will either open our eyes normal and pop open a bottle of champagne, or awake as new beings with remarkable powers and characteristics to discover.”

RESEARCHERS plan to take the title of this Christopher Lee movie literally.

RESEARCHERS plan to take the title of this Christopher Lee movie literally.

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

If you found this story by fiction writer C. Michael Forsyth entertaining, you might enjoy his novels…

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world's greatest magician probe a paranormal  mystery in new thriller.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world’s greatest magician probe a paranormal mystery in new thriller.

More about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

Read Hour of the Beast.

The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

Check out The Blood of Titans.

9 Ways to Tell if Your Cat is a Vampire   Leave a comment

CUTE little Mittens may be secretly slurping your blood.

CUTE little Mittens may be secretly slurping your blood.

By C. Michael Forsyth

Warning: Your precious house cat may be a vampire that sneaks into your bedroom each night to lap your blood!

Sanguinem nobiscum, the parasite associated with vampirism in humans, can be transmitted from people to felines and vice versa, much like the better known toxoplasma gondii, experts say.

“The parasite rewires the brain, creating an irresistible hunger for blood,” says veterinary infectious-disease specialist Dr. Nora Kelwick. “Most pet owners are unaware of the change. Their cat slinks into the room of a family member – frequently a child – and feeds. The pinprick-sized holes it leaves are no more noticeable than mosquito bites, and the victim is aware of nothing besides increased grogginess in the morning, and perhaps a slight dizziness.”

Vampiric felines have been reported since the earliest accounts of human vampires and blood-drinking demons in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Cults devoted to the worship of the Cat Goddess flourished up until 3rd century Rome, with human sacrifice quite common. In the Middle Ages, cats were feared as familiars of witches, due principally to their habit of preying on sleeping peasants. The ability of vampire cats to survive seemingly fatal accidents such as falls from tremendous heights, drowning or being run over by wagons gave rise to the superstition that cats have “nine lives.”

Here, from the expert, are nine warning signs that your beloved pet has joined the ranks of the undead:

1) Sleeps or is listless during the day, but is active at night, much like a human vampire.
2) Stares at you for no apparent reason, as if trying to lull you into a hypnotic trance.
3) Normally an indoor cat, now attempts to slip out to hunt for victims.
4) Severe allergic reaction to garlic.
5) Shuns sunlight.
6) Visiting children – more sensitive to the supernatural – are apprehensive around it.
7) Won’t cross running water.
8) Recoils and flees when a crucifix is thrust in its face.
9) Begins to smoke when sprayed with holy water.

While roving packs of feral vampire cats have been known to prey on the homeless in some large cities – especially St. Louis – the main danger is of infecting humans.

“Spores from the parasite can be transmitted by the cat’s bite, creating a risk of conversion, especially among persons with weak immune systems,” cautions Dr. Kelwick. “If you suspect your cat is a vampire, consult a vet immediately.”

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

If you enjoyed this mind-bending story by C. Michael Forsyth, check out his collection of bizarre news, available on Kindle and in other eBook formats.

Bizarre News Cover 5.

If you found this story by fiction writer C. Michael Forsyth entertaining, you might enjoy his novels…

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world's greatest magician probe a paranormal  mystery in new thriller.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world’s greatest magician probe a paranormal mystery in new thriller.

More about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.


Read Hour of the Beast.
The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

Check out The Blood of Titans.

VAMPIRES & WEREWOLVES ARE BEST OF FRIENDS, Researchers Now Say   Leave a comment

By C. Michael Forsyth

CHIGAGO – Forget what you’ve seen in Hollywood horror flicks like “Underworld.” Vampires and werewolves get on famously — and the friendly relationship dates back many centuries, according to top experts in the field.

“Many of my closest pals are werewolves,” reveals Charles Vinowinski, a self-proclaimed Chicago vampire who says he’s 128 years old, but looks a spry 60. “We go bowling together, hang out and visit each other’s homes to play board games on Saturday nights.”

The chummy relationship between the two species is a far cry from the hit movie “Underworld,” which depicts a war that’s been waged for eons.

“The vampire-werewolf alliance can be traced at least as far back as ancient Rome,” asserts folklorist Dr. Hans Reintenhauser of the Berlin Institute for the Study of Unusual Phenomenon.

“During the dark ages, vampires and werewolves were known to hunt together and operate in pairs. During the day, while in human form, the lycanthrope would protect the sleeping vampire from those who would do him or her harm.

“Because in those days both species were persecuted by ordinary people, they needed to work hand in hand for the sake of their own survival.”
Such “odd couples” still exist in modern times, according to the expert, author of the upcoming book, “Friends Forever: The Untold Story of the Vampire-Werewolf Kinship.”

“Yes there is sometimes rivalry between the two, which are so different in their temperaments; some good-natured ribbing and occasional bickering,” says Dr. Reintenhauser. “But it’s like something you’d see in a buddy movie like ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ or between Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the ‘Rush Hour’ pictures. Deep down, there is an abundance of love and respect.”

Since both vampires and werewolves are believed to be immortal – barring a run-in with the business end of a sharpened stake or silver bullet – “buddy” pairs develop an incredibly strong bond over the centuries.

“Imagine a comedy duo like Abbot and Costello, who’ve worked together so long they can anticipate each other’s every thought, can finish each others’ sentences and have impeccable timing,” explains the researcher. “Now imagine that kind of link strengthening over the course of a thousand or more years.”

Wolfman Henry Yerbrough, 241, has such a close-knit bond with his longtime associate Jean-Claude Dujardane, whom he claims he met in a field hospital during the War of 1812.

“Jean-Claude and I are like brothers,” smiles Yerbrough, of Milwaukee. “He was the best man at my wedding and I’m the godfather of his three kids. When we travel, we share a hotel room and once a year we go fishing together in the mountains.

“A lot of people assume we’re gay, especially since I work in a hair salon,” he adds with a chuckle. “But trust me, I love women as much as the next guy.”

Brooklyn native Ed Neidorf Jr., who is comparatively young as vampires go, at age 78, says he can only remember a single violent encounter with werewolves.

“This was in the early 1950s and there was a ‘rumble’ between a couple of rival vampire and werewolf gangs,” recalls the plumbing contactor, who still sports jet-black hair. “No one was killed, but there were some minor injuries. I remember some pretty nasty epithets being hurled at me, like ‘bloodsucker’ and “leech.’

“We were all just young and stupid then.”

When vampires and lycanthropes see movies like “Underworld” and “Twilight Saga: New Moon,” which also portrays the two groups as age-old enemies, it makes their blood boil.

“Hollywood makes it look as if we fight like cats and dogs,” fumes Vinowinski, a house inspector. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth. All rights reserved

If you enjoyed this mind-bending story by C. Michael Forsyth, check out his collection of bizarre news, available on Kindle and in other eBook formats.

Bizarre News Cover 5.

If you found this story by fiction writer C. Michael Forsyth entertaining, you might enjoy his novels…

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world's greatest magician probe a paranormal  mystery in new thriller.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world’s greatest magician probe a paranormal mystery in new thriller.

More about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.


Read Hour of the Beast.
The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

Check out The Blood of Titans.

Top Female Vampire Organization Insists: “We are NOT Lesbians!”   Leave a comment

Unlike the lusty vampiress in the horror movie “Lesbian Vampire Killers,” most real-life female vampires are arrow-straight.

By C. Michael Forsyth

The nation’s most prominent organization of female vampires has angrily denounced Hollywood’s widespread depiction of them as lesbians, branding it “an ugly stereotype.”

“Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of female vampires are heterosexual,” declared Anita Sweltword, president of the 1,300-member Daughters of Darkness.

“Yes, we primarily choose women as our victims, but that’s because they are generally smaller and weaker. Honestly, do they expect us to take on some lug who looks like Larry the Cable Guy?”

The movie “Blood and Roses” is based on Carmilla, a story with lesbian undertones.

The notion that lady vampires prefer the company of women can be traced back to the classic horror tale Carmilla, penned by J. Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872. In the story, a female vampire preys on a young woman with whom she’s developed a close, intensely powerful bond.

“The word ‘lesbian’ is never used, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the nature of their relationship,” explains Dennis Furtwyn, author of Vampires Through Time, a 900-page tome that covers blood-drinkers from their earliest recorded doings in ancient Egypt to the present day.

STRICTLY BUSINESS: Female vampires prey on women because they're easier to overpower, they claim.

STRICTLY BUSINESS: Female vampires prey on women because they’re easier to overpower, they claim.

The lesbian vampire image was cemented in the 1983 film “The Hunger” in which Catherine Deneuve starred as a centuries-old vampiress who seduces a mortal, played by Susan Sarandon.

“There are graphic scenes of hot and heavy lovemaking between the vampire and her victim,” the author observes.

But such fictional portrayals are highly inaccurate, Sweltword insists.

“You’ve got to understand that most modern-day vampires were converted during the big wave of the late 19th century, the Victorian era,” she points out. “In those days of prudish sexual mores, most young women led sheltered lives — and homosexuality was an unmentionable subject, referred to only vaguely as ‘the love that dare not speak its name.’

“Most newly turned vampires had never even heard of lesbianism. I myself knew nothing about it until the mid-1950s when I entered the bedroom of a professional golfer. After I sucked her blood and turned to go, she grabbed my wrist and begged me to stay the night. At first, I had no idea what she was driving at. But when I finally got the drift, I was horrified and dove out the window like a bat out of hell!”

Even in comic books, female vampires are portrayed as girl-crazy.

Sweltword doesn’t deny that a handful of her fellow female nosferatu have dabbled in same-sex love romps.

“Yes, some of us who joined the ranks in the last few decades experimented with other girls in college, after a few beers or whatever,” she admits. “But in most cases that was before they were converted.

“The idea that we are all a bunch of girl-crazy, lustful lesbians is just plain wrong.”

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

If you enjoyed this mind-bending story by C. Michael Forsyth, check out his collection of bizarre news, available on Kindle and in other eBook formats.

Bizarre News Cover 5.

If you found this story by fiction writer C. Michael Forsyth entertaining, you might enjoy his novels…

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world's greatest magician probe a paranormal  mystery in new thriller.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world’s greatest magician probe a paranormal mystery in new thriller.

More about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

Read Hour of the Beast.

The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

Check out The Blood of Titans.

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