The Dresden Files, and where Urban Meets Fantasy

JimButcherI’ve been working my way through a stack of urban fantasy novels lately, as part of a research project. One question I’ve been asking myself is how each story justifies being both urban and fantasy, as opposed to either a straightforward crime novel or a secondary world fantasy.

I recently re-read Storm Front, the first book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, and I have to say that it’s a pretty tidy little summary of how the urban and the fantasy can be kept in good balance.

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The Aesthetics of Elsagate

Still from “Spiderman Harley Quinn Bedroom Pranks! Love Drug Joker Frozen Elsa Superheroes Fun Funny”, which may well be the Citizen Kane of Elsagate.

I’ve rather belatedly started reading up on Elsagate. For the uninitiated, this is a controversy over YouTube Kids allowing videos which use popular children’s characters (such as Elsa from Frozen) in contexts that are not really family-friendly. Some are animated, others are live action, all are weird.

Do a search for “Elsagate” and you’ll find multiple theories about how these videos came to exist. Possible explanations range from automated animation software gone awry, to a paedophile gang using cartoons trying to groom children.

But for the live-action videos, at least, I think the explanation is a little simpler. Having looked at some of them, my impression is that the clips are no more than amateur attempts to create something in the vein of a Family Guy or Robot Chicken skit, which also mix pop culture characters with all manner of debauched humour. The sticky wicket is that the creators lack any comedic ability, meaning that the results are less funny and more… well, worrying.

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How I Spent December 2017

DorisDecemberWell, it was a quiet month as far as blogging was concerned. I ended up taking a bit of a break as the festive season thrust its tinsel into my face and sang Cliff Richard numbers.

As I type, I have a whole load of emotions in my head, all jammed against each other as they try and jostle their way to the top. I’m picturing them as those Plasticine worms from Trapdoor. I’m also having a had time disentangling them. There are some definite anxieties about the future in there, but they’re competing with personal optimism.

Next year I’ll be knuckling down on my personal projects. The big one will be my comic, Midnight Widows. The first issue’s worth of content has already been serialised in Belladonna magazine, and I plan to start a crowdfunding drive in 2018 that’ll cover both a proper print run for issue #1 and also the creation and publication of issues #2 and #3. Wish me luck!

On top of that, I’m also working on Monster Hunters, Dinosaur Lovers: Speculative Fiction in the Culture War, my non-fiction book about the stories caught up in the Hugos/Sad Puppies kerfuffle between 2013 and 2016.

Lately I’ve been letting these projects cut into my blogging time. I’d like to get a better balance, and spend a bit more time getting my writing out there on the Internet while my long-haul projects are going on in the background. Well, that’s my New Year’s resolution…

Articles posted elsewhere this month:

Article topics for January and beyond:


December 2017 Belladonna Issue Now Available!

APdlvVCeDeck the halls with Horror Honeys…

Yes, the December edition of Belladonna is here, and its stocking is stuffed with seasonal goodness. Supernatural Honey Kim discusses the festive traditions weird enough to warrent their own horror films, Guest Honey Laurel offers a unique take on A Christmas Carol, Monster Honey Sarah expresses her love for The Nightmare Before Christmas, Slasher Honey Chassity revisits Jack Frost, Revenge Honey Addison exposess the scary side of Santa, Classics Honey Sam discusses the sinsiter festive traditions of Scotland, and I make my own contribution to the seasonal celebrations by looking back at the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas.

We also have a few articles for those who need a break from the festivities, including Sarah’s review of Borley Rectory, Kim’s take on The Last Witch, and my reviews of the recently-reprinted British horror classics Scream! and Misty. Plus! Interviews with actor Tristan Risk and comic crestor Shannon Devine!

On top of that, the comic serial I’ve been working on with artist Marcela Hauptvogelova, Midnight Widows, concludes its first run this issue. The Widows will be back for all-new adventures next year, so watch this space.

Midnight Widows Belladonna Page 24

If this sounds like your idea of festive fun, then you can bag your copy at the official website or MagCloud.

How I Spent November 2017

I don’t do Thanksgiving, what with being English and all. But even so, I’ve found myself feeling very thankful this month. I’ve recently been touching base with old friends, and getting closer to my current pals as well. I feel blessed to have such a lovely band of people around me.

After taking a bit of a break last month, I’ve got cracking on my book Monster Hunters, Dinosaur Lovers once more. My research involves deep-diving into the fantasy and science fiction published between 2013 to 2016, and I’d like to take the opportunity to offer my sincerest gratitude to all of the SF/F magazines that have made their stories available as podcasts, thereby allowing me to research and draw at the same time. Kate Baker’s Clarkesworld readings have been the soundtrack to my evenings.

Speaking of drawing, the first issue of my comic Midnight Widows will be finishing its serialisation in Belladonna next month, and work is well underway on issue 2. Marcela’s been pencilling, and I’ve been inking (while listening to Kate Baker). If all goes to plan then there should be a crowdfunding campaign early next year, so that I can afford a colourist, cover art, print runs and more. Watch this space.

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for December and beyond: