The cult section of the literary world

Show Me Your Shelves: Jeff Burk

Jeff Burk was one of the first people I met outside of Facebook that quickly joined my “if you don’t like this person, you’re an asshole” list. I’ve talked books, beer, and horror with Jeff and it’s always been great. I’ve also talked about piracy, politics, the ins and outs of publishing, and even black pus and being tortured by bed bugs, and Jeff has always been cool, honest, and charismatic. Oh, and then there’s the fact that he’s one of the first bizarro authors I read and a man whose work I still dig immensely. So yeah, if you dislike Jeff, there’s something wrong with you. Here’s what he had to say about books, his shelves, his mast…er, his cat, and some upcoming books(!).

GI: Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

JB: I am Jeff Burk. I am the author of SHATNERQUAKE, SUPER GIANT MONSTER TIME, CRIPPLE WOLF, and SHATNERQUEST. I’ve also done a shit tone of short stories, interviews and essays. In addition, I am the head editor of Deadite Press and I do editorial work for Eraserhead Press.

I am a full-time writer and editor – so it is no exaggeration to say that books are my entire life and my life depends on them. Not only are they a personal passion, they are how I pay all my bills and feed my cat.

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GI: You know a lot of authors, so picking favorites will be hard, but I’m gonna ask you anyway: apocalypse is here and you can only take Squishy and five books. Which five make the cut?

This is super hard but I think I can do it.

1: THE INVISIBLES OMMIBUS by Grant Morrison and various artists – My favorite long-form comic book. It’s a super-psychedelic, anarchist adventure comic and I have a super nice hard-cover edition that contains every issue ever published. It’s basically the comic book world’s version of Jodorowsky’s THE HOLY MOUNTAIN.

2: ZOMBIES: ENCOUNTERS WITH THE HUNGRY DEAD edited by John Skipp – my all-time favorite horror anthology. It used to be, THE BOOK OF THE DEAD (also edited by John Skipp), but his more recent zombie collection blew the original away (in my opinion). From classic atmospheric tales to hardcore horror, this has it all, plus shit tons of zombies.

3: THE WAY OF THE TAROT by Alejandro Jodorowsky – I find Tarot cards fascinating and my favorite book on the subject was written by the brilliant Alejandro Jodorowsky (of EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN). Not only is it the best, most insightful, work ever done on the cards, it’s also a wonderful spiritual guide to life.

4: ALL I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FILMMAKING I LEARNED FROM THE TOXIC AVENGER by Lloyd Kaufman and James Gunn – Part history of Troma Studios (the oldest independent film studio in the world), part how-to-guide for DIY filmmaking, and part feel good guide to living an artistic life. I love this book. Nothing else gets me hyped up to go out and make art of my own. Plus, my copy is signed to me from Kaufman himself.

5: HOWARD THE DUCK OMMIBUS by Steve Gerber and various artists – there’s no harder book to recommend to people than the original comic of Howard the Duck. Sadly, George Lucas’ film has completely destroyed the reputation of one of the most brilliant, funny, and insightful comics ever written. This features the most brutally honest depiction of depression that I’ve ever come across (seriously) and is my go to read for when I feel down and just need the idea that someone else understands.

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GI: Where can I get some decent tacos in Portland? How does it feel to be a human paintbrush?

JB: For good tacos, just hit up any taco cart – of which there are dozens of them spread out all over the city. They are cheap and delicious. Or you could just come over to my house while Garrett Cook and I are having a cook out – we make some pretty kick-ass food and tacos are easy for the menu.

Being a human paintbrush is pretty awesome. You can make great artwork without having to do any work. (In case you are not aware, the brilliant Alan M. Clark, who has done covers for Eraserhead and Deadite Press, has done painting demonstrations using my dreadlocks as the brushes. He’s even painted a portrait of me using only the hair attached to my head).

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GI: You obviously love horror, but your own work is more bizarro/fun/weird/funny than blood/black pus/tentacles. Why is that?

JB: While horror is my true love and I can never get enough sadistic violence and gore – my natural writing inclinations do not go that way. What comes easiest to me (and what readers seems to like) is silly sci-fi stories with lots of action.

However, I have finally started work on my first straight-forward horror novel. And it will be fucking nasty (in all the best ways).

GI: What’s your latest book about and why should we run and get it?

My latest book came out over a year ago – SHATNERQUEST. Rather than pimp that, I rather talk about the three books I have in the works. Who knows, you might be seeing them soon.

HOMOBOMB – a tragic love story about a bomb that is attracted to other bombs when it is supposed to be attracted to people and buildings.

LORD OF THE LARPERS – a rewrite of LORD OF THE FLIES but with live-action role-players in the roles of the characters. The villains will be Civil War re-enactors led by “Robert E. Lee.”

A SNUFF FILM IN A HAUNTED HOUSE – my first straight-up horror novel. It’s about…well, the title kinda tells you.

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth, Hungry Darkness, and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias

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