Thursday, February 4, 2010


No, not the show famous for the creation of Fonz (and equally famous for coining the term "jumping the shark"). No, I mean literal happy days. Yes, there's white stuff on the ground. Richmond, the once "proud" capital of the Confederacy, is more reminiscent of the frozen world of Hoth (dork-alert)! And, yes, I've had a run lately...including doggie death, re-wiring a car, and a move. But still I decree HAPPY DAYS!

Carlton Mellick 3, is certainly an acquired literary taste. I like him, but there are plenty of people who would slap me if I recommended his works to anyone. The second issue of the Magazine of Bizarro Fiction has an indepth look at Mr. Mellick's genius. He's truly gifted. And, he's been able to give life to his weird worlds...and garner a very loyal fan following. I met CM3 at BizarroCon this year and was expecting...well, I'm not sure what I was expecting. I could have been expecting a pair of sideburns with a personality. What I got was a very genuine, very humble, very nice individual with a lust for the written word. CM3 is one of those authors that is very much a character, and he's the posterchild for Eraserhead Press and the bizarro movement.

So, getting back to Happy Days...Mr. Mellick recently posted an article about the NBAS through Eraserhead. It's a brilliant article that really captures the feel for the state of publishing, especially in this new age, and the importance of new voices. He also does a profile for each of the authors involved. Here's the portion about 4 new authors - one of which is yours truly.

Kevin Shamel is the first of these authors that I’ve met. I met him at a reading in Olympia, WA, about 8 months before I met the others at BizarroCon. Since then he’s become a great friend and he’s always excited to talk about the writing and publishing world, something I can go on about for days nonstop. I also like him for his topnotch cocktail-making skills and his belief that you can’t be too old to have a mohawk (his young son has a matching mohawk). His strengths over the other NBAS authors is that he has the most energy, the most time on his hands, and is close enough to Portland to get involved in the Portland bizarro scene and participate in local bizarro events. When he does readings, he does a demented puppet show with audience participation. It’s a sight to see. His book is called Rotten Little animals, and it’s kind of like a “Meet the Feebles” type of story about these talking animals who decide to make a snuff film. The inclusion of zombie cats is a plus. Many people have said this one is the weirdest book of the four.

Patrick Wensink is selling the most copies of his book so far. Perhaps because of the great title: “Sex Dungeon for Sale,” perhaps because he has the most professional-looking cover art, perhaps because it was praised by Joey Goebel, or perhaps because he’s just an awesome writer. Either way, he’s doing something right and has a big lead on the other NBAS. The book might also be doing well because it is a collection of comical short stories, and let’s face it: comedy sells. It is pretty rare in literature, since most writers take themselves too seriously, but readers just love humorous books. Like Christopher Moore, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Kurt Vonnegut, people can’t get enough of it. That’s probably why Patrick Wensink is the leading NBAS author and Mykle Hansen is the leading bizarro author (at the moment). Patrick is also a hilarious guy to be around. He’s a member of an improve comedy troupe and a big fan of my favorite sketch comedy show: The Upright Citizens Brigade. Any fan of UCB is a friend of mine. Plus, he was a Portlander for a while and might come back to visit us regularly. Patrick’s strengths over the other bizarros is probably his sense of initiative, sense of humor, and most importantly his results. When it comes down to it, results matter most.

Eric Mays was the one we were least optimistic about… at first. His book is about Kafka and Shakespeare, and was originally titled “Kafka’s Shakespearean Tragedy,” which made many people I know groan out loud. Before Kevin read the submission, based on the title and concept only, he told me “There’s no way I’m ever going to accept something like this.” It seemed like the kind of book that gets rejected by bizarro publishers over and over again. However, after reading it Kevin said “I MUST accept this.” And everyone in the bizarro scene who has read it, especially those with literary sensibilities, say that it is one of the most impressive bizarro books to come out in a long time. So, according to the scene, this guy is a brilliant writer and gives bizarro a good name. I’ve even heard people say if we can get more writers like Eric in bizarro then bizarro might actually become a respectable genre. While I could care less whether or not bizarro becomes respectable, it’s still nice to hear so many people back this guy, because Eric is one of the nicest guys out there. A passionate, lively, friendly, fun guy to hang out with, Eric is the kind of writer who you’d love to have a beer with. Or five. His strengths over the other NBAS authors is that he’s probably the best reader due to his background in theater (he can really bring his characters to life), he can appeal to high brow audiences as well as lowbrow audiences (because of his use of humor), and he’s also considering moving to Portland to join our local scene here, which is always a huge plus since Eraserhead Press puts a lot of attention into local bizarro writers. His book, now titled Naked Metamorphosis, has been described as “witty and whimsical.” While it’s hard to sum up the plot into a pretty one-liner, it will appeal to fans of Kafka, Shakespeare, and British comedy.

David Barbee is the underdog of the group. A lot of people are routing for him, but he’s had the least amount of success so far. He’s been a part of the bizarro community longer than any of the others, for a few years I believe. He was the only previously published author, because he had two self-published books out. He immediately impressed Kevin and I by taking his books out of print in order to submit to the new bizarro author series. That is the rule: you can submit to the New Bizarro Author Series if you have self-published some of your books, but you must first take them out of print. The thing is we never expected any self-published author to ever do this. If you had self-published a book would you be willing to forever take it out of print just at the chance to get published by Eraserhead Press? Not many people would be willing to do that. To this day, David Barbee is the only submitter who has ever had the guts to do this. Most self-published writers who have wanted to submit to the NBAS have whined and complained and tried to convince us to change our rules just for them. But David did it without a second thought. David’s strength over the other bizarro writers is his commitment to bizarro. He’s not only said he’s committed, he’s shown us this. Commitment combined with results are the two biggest things Rose is looking for. All David needs are the results. His book, Carnageland, is like reading a fun hyper-violent cartoon. It is a lot like a bizarro Invader Zim, with sex and violence.

You can read the full article here:

This is new art at its purest. We (all 4) are artists. Fortunately we're not starving artists...yet. But, as always, we love the support. I will say, having read all of these (even my own), each one is good and would look nice on the shelf. Also, each one has a very different feel to it. If you need something to tide you over, or a bathroom reader, or a gym book, go to Amazon and invest $10. It's a sound and very worthy investment.