Tomorrow is the Inauguration of the 45th President of the USA, a man who is universally reviled as a reality TV star, philanderer, crook, and just plain terrible human being. Donald Trump is a lethal mixture of everything loathsome in modern society, and he’s about to become the world’s most powerful man. We here at Bizarro Central can’t help but laugh as we weep. We also can’t help but make weird art out of this weird moment in history, so without further ado, we’d like to share some of the creations of artists in the Bizarro scene who have taken it upon themselves to present Donald Trump as they truly see him. First is a video by Andrew Goldfarb, the Slow Poisoner:
Now, a series of portraits by Jim Agpalza.
And there will be plenty more art coming out of the bizarro community. We’re all heading into a new and strange era, but whatever the future holds, it’s not as weird as we are.
Nathan Carson’s debut book has a trailer! Make sure to pick up Starr Creek at Amazon.
“Laura Lee Bahr writes masterpiece fiction. Oh my God, we’re witnessing the beginning of a brilliant canon and career. ” – Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box
These nine prime cuts of Angel Meat feed the soul in a collection precisely crafted for connoisseur and newcomer alike. Taste the “Grade A” stick-to-your-ribs psychological horror of “The Liar,” the dark love magic cast by “Rat-Head,” the bold blend of sci-fi and noir in “The Cause,” and the naked truth revealed “In the Desert.”
Laura Lee Bahr’s distinctive flavors linger on the tongue long after the reading’s done. Her transcendent servings of flesh, wings, and heart are yours to savor for years to come.
Get it here!
Leza Cantoral has a new story collection from Bizarro Pulp Press! Get it here!
“Lyrical and perverse, like a prostitute on acid in a poetry slam, this collection of the dark, erotic, and bizarre flirts with the heroin fever dreams of a William Burroughs and the horrific surrealism of Charlee Jacobs.” – Wrath James White, THE RESURRECTIONIST and THE BOOK OF A THOUSAND SINS
A certain other blogger has been making a lot of claims about Bizarro recently, most of which are highly exaggerated or outright falsehoods. In the interest of giving some positive clarity to the matter, as well as some actual history, I’ve decided to put together just a couple of blog posts about it. If any of the information I give here is inaccurate, PLEASE do not hesitate to contact me to correct the info.
That being said… where do we start?
A lot of people start with a seemingly simple question:
WHAT IS BIZARRO?
That’s a good question, but it’s not a simple question to answer, and that answer is inextricably tied to the origins and development of the Bizarro scene. The most basic attempt to give a guideline (and a guideline is far more important than a dictionary definition here) is this: Bizarro is the literary equivalent of the cult movie section of a local video store. This is a section full of lots of different, off-kilter, and genuinely strange movies by filmmakers like John Waters, David Lynch, Takashi Miike, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jan Svankmajer, David Cronenberg, Guy Maddin, Lloyd Kaufman, Terry Gilliam, and Yorgos Lanthimos.
That covers a lot of territory and some people find that confusing – everything from surreal art-house to low-budget shock films – but it’s hard to make it any clearer in less than a thousand words of explanation. Recently, when I used that rule of thumb, the person asking responded that this guideline was “uselessly broad.” And I responded, “Well if American Psycho, The Wolf Man, Dead Alive, Jacob’s Ladder, Scream, Shaun of the Dead, Jaws, Videodrome, and Critters are all the same genre, how usefully narrow is that?”
EVERY genre is extremely broad, and until you understand the associated elements and the aesthetic you won’t get it. All Bizarro could be classified in other genres, though not necessarily in a way that’s sensible. Just like one person might argue that American Werewolf in London is a Comedy movie first and a Horror movie second, or that Bone Tomahawk is a Western first and Horror second, Bizarro is one particular metric that overlaps with a lot of other genres. And that metric is WEIRDNESS. If the appeal of something is that it is entertainingly weird, then it is Bizarro. Period. Regardless of whatever other elements are in play from any other genre or style. A lot of Bizarro is trangressive, or surreal, or absurd, or grotesque, or perverse, or incorporates horrific elements, but none of these have ever been required for a book to be considered Bizarro, only weirdness.
Is a category of weird books useful? If you don’t think so, then Bizarro may not be for you. This is a category that didn’t necessarily happen by design – just like Lynch didn’t decide at the outset to be a cult filmmaker – but it is also not something that happened by accident. Bizarro coalesced when a tiny group of writers and small presses noticed there was a growing amount of hard-to-classify underground lit that shared some similarities. There were “Horror” authors whose work was far more weird than scary, and often darkly humorous. There were authors writing with elements of Sci-Fi that focused less on the science and more on the general weirdness of the world it allowed them to create. There were authors doing almost experimental literature that was too low-brow to be taken seriously in the academic scene and used genre elements that ghetto-ized it. And they looked around to more popular authors who were hard-to-classify like Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, Roald Dahl, or Joe Lansdale, and they decided that not only was there already a genre of weird in existence, but it needed a label so that people who were into weird stuff could find it more easily.
So three presses got together and decided to brand their releases as Bizarro. It was extremely small at first, mainly limited to authors already involved with Eraserhead, Raw Dog Screaming, or the now defunct Afterbirth Books. This was 2005, when “Bizarro” was picked as the genre tag for all these previously misclassified books. Those first Bizarro authors had already been writing Bizarro since the early 2000s or even the 90s, but they’d never had a name for it. They’d never had a convenient way to communicate to readers what their stuff was all about. Bizarro, as a label, changed that.
Now, for a lot of authors whose work doesn’t fit into traditional genres, Bizarro provides a haven and an opportunity to reach an audience that they may not have known existed before there was a rallying point, a short hand, a brand name. I didn’t set out to write Bizarro. I know that I am not alone. I started out just writing stories that were too weird to get accepted by the Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, and Lit markets I’d been submitting them to. I was getting rejected because I was submitting to the wrong places, not realizing how bizarre my work was by core genre standards. When I found Bizarro, I found the appropriate market for my work. And I was way late in the game compared to progenitors like Carlton Mellick III, Kevin L. Donihe, John Edward Lawson, D. Harlan Wilson, or Gina Ranalli. But I came to Bizarro the same way they did: seeking an outlet for a voice too weird to make it in other markets. If I hadn’t found Bizarro, I might have eventually given up on ever getting published. You can only take so many rejections before you feel like your work must suck. And it’s very hard to tell, especially with form rejections, if the problem is the quality of your work or that you aren’t writing what the markets are looking for. If no other market is looking for your work, YOU are probably Bizarro.
Now, when I first heard of Bizarro and started to look into what it was about circa 2009, I was immediately skeptical. I looked around and got the impression that it was the paperback equivalent of Troma films and IN-YOU-FACE Gwar videos dripping with green hog semen. But this was not accurate. There were those books, don’t get me wrong, and I’m not shitting on authors who write those kinds of books, but at the time it seemed to me that my weird was different from their weird.
I started to explore some Bizarro books and I was pleasantly blown away. The genre was incredibly diverse, and even titles that screamed GONZO SLIME EXPLOITATION were actually books that defied my expectations. There was something going on in this scene much deeper than superficial shock humor. There was an undercurrent of weirdness that ran through this material, from one end of the spectrum to the other. There were weird children’s books and weird romances. There were incredibly well written books with cuss words in the title. It was hard for me to process. But once I got it, I had found my home.
From the time I got involved in Bizarro in 2012, the scene has only grown more diverse, more vibrant, and more creative. If anyone tells you anything else they are selling something. There are still plenty of shockingly extreme titles to choose from, as well as fabulously weird magical realism, weird noir, pop culture absurdity, high-brow strangeness, and even absurd Bizarro erotica that you can’t imagine anyone jilling off to. There are so many flavors of weird here, I can hardly believe it.
And in closing the section, I’d like to visually list just a few TOTALLY BODACIOUS AND RADICALLY IN YOUR FACE TITLES that came out in the last five years, showing definitively that the Bizarro scene is not dead, oh no it’s not.
There is something wrong with Tori Manetti’s new exercise bike. It is made from flesh and bone. It eats and breathes and poops. It was once a billionaire named Darren Oscarson who underwent years of cosmetic surgery to be transformed into a human exercise bike so that he could live out his deepest sexual fantasy. Now Tori is forced to ride him, use him as a normal piece of exercise equipment, no matter how grotesque his appearance.
Set in a health food dystopia, “Exerice Bike” is an absurd horror tale of domination and submission, power and obedience, desire and desperation, from Wonderland Book Award winner Carlton Mellick III
Get your copy at Amazon
It’s almost January, which means you need a fucking calendar. And Vince Kramer has just the product to fill your needs. Behold, the infamous ACTION FIGURES FUCKING CALENDAR.
Action Figures Fucking ALL YEAR LONG. 12 pages of hot sex scenes featuring some of your favorite characters from movies and television. Use your calendar to remember important holidays (like “Grab Her By the Pussy Day”, and “Christmas”), while being entertained by a professional, full-color photo of action figures getting it on. You’ll never be able to look at August again without thinking about Luke Skywalker sticking his dick in Jabba the Hutt’s mouth, or October without Mulder sexually harassing Scully in the work place. And just how long IS Jar Jar Binks’ tongue anyway? Can it go straight in a pussy? Find out in January, by buying a 2017 Action Figures Fucking calendar and putting it on the wall.
More info on how to purchase your own perverted day planner can be found over on Vince’s website. Get yours while supplies last!