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MYSTERY MEAT, A Bizarro Comic You Can Help Kickstart

If I were to tell you that there’s a comic book written and illustrated by two of the most talented weirdos who ever stuck pen to paper, you’d want in on it, right?

Well, there is and you can be. From the minds of Cody Goodfellow and Mike Dubisch comes MYSTERY MEAT, a gruesome underground graphic novel that slices, dices, and deep fries the last American taboo: our food.

And it’s already complete! The story’s told and the art’s made, and now you can help get this horrifically beautiful work to life through Kickstarter. The creators are offering a long list of rewards for those who make donations big or small. And they’re already a third of the way toward meeting their first goal. The deadline is August 20, so head to the Mystery Meat Kickstarter and bring something weird to life!

Mind Widening Music: Bizarro Music #5 – Spike Jones

by Lee Widener

In this month’s column it is my great pleasure to present an artist I consider the grandfather of Bizarro music, Spike Jones. Spike Jones was a drummer, percussionist, composer and bandleader mostly popular in the 40s and 50s, though he did release some recordings in the 1960s.

As a drummer, he rose through the ranks, playing in many different bands, combos and orchestras, but Spike wasn’t happy playing things straight. He loved to clown around, and he and his fellow musicians would practice after hours, playing parodies and jazzed up versions of popular hits. They recorded their sessions and pressed discs to share with family and friends. One of these recordings made it to the hands of an RCA Victor executive, who signed Spike and his band to a contract. Their first release waspikegun.JPGs “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” a novelty tune ridiculing Adolf Hitler. It reached number three on the U.S. charts and Spike Jones and his City Slickers became stars.

Just as Bizarro Fiction takes genre fiction and filters it through a funhouse mirror so that it becomes something strange and wonderful, Spike Jones warped popular and classical music so that it transformed into something that could only be judged on its own merits. His version of the William Tell Overture, filled with sound effects and bad jokes, told the story of a very unusual horse race. As a percussionist, Spike peppered his recordings with gunshots, pots and pans, cutlery, bells, whistles, explosions and general mayhem. Here is a theatrical short where Spike skewers a popular hit of the time, “Cocktails for Two,” which includes one of Spike Jones’ trademarks, a vocal affectation referred to as “gugging,” a repeated rapid fire use of the glottal stop.

Spike and the City Slickers, accomplished musicians and singers all, could be seen in movies, endless touring with his act “The Musical Depreciation Society,” and most importantly on the upstart medium of television where he was a frequent guest and had several series of his own. The visual value of Spike’s performances cannot be overestimated. He and his band wore outrageously loud suits, and filled each number with endless sight gags that stretched the boundaries of reality. Here is their version of the popular tune “That Old Black Magic,” with vocals by Billy Barty, one of the original Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz, doing impressions of Johnnie Ray, James Cagney, Jimmy Durante, and others.

One of the characteristics of Bizarro Fiction is that it’s critical of mainstream society and cultural norms. Spike Jones’ music destroyed the mainstream music of the day, and ridiculed high-brow music with his decidedly low-brow antics. In this final clip from his tv show the sponsor decides the show needs a little class. The solution is to have the entire band dress as women. I don’t know how that’s classy, but it sure is bizarre.

There is a lot more Spike Jones on youtube. I encourage you to seek it out.


Lee Widener is a lifelong collector of weird music. For ten years he ran the internet radio station NeverEndingWonder Radio, which specialized in odd, unusual, freaky and bizarre music, and still runs a small Halloween themed radio station, which can be found at Welcome to Weirdsville . He is the author of “David Bowie is Trying to Kill Me!” and “Rock N Roll Head Case” published in October 2015 by Eraserhead Press.

Bizarro Cinema at the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival

The Fantasia International Film Festival is in full swing, and this week is of particular interest in bizarro world. Mixed in with the deluge of movies and short films on the Festival schedule are some short films based on the work of authors we know and admire. If you are attending this year’s Fantasia Film Fest, make sure you check out these films and support everyone who worked so hard to bring these weird visions to life.

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First is “THE ELVIS ROOM,” a scary short film based on a Stephen Graham Jones story by the same name. That film is actually scheduled for tonight (7/25), and on Saturday (7/30), we get a short film just as scary and perhaps even weirder: “WHEN SUSURRUS STIRS,” based on the short story by Portland’s own Jeremy Robert Johnson. This is one of Johnson’s sickest stories and will surely make the audience squirm in their seats. Here’s the teaser trailer to give you a taste of the squirmness.

Flash Fiction Friday: Now You’re Trenchman

By John Wayne Comunale

Carrie peered through the curtains of her bedroom window. The man was still there. She didn’t know why she expected anything different, since he had been standing on the sidewalk across the street from her house for the last five days. Every time she looked out, he would hold up his hand, displaying a finger for each day he’d been there. It took her a couple days to figure what the fingers represented, but now it was clear as he held up his hand with all five fingers extended.

The man wore a long trench coat that plunged all the way to the ground, completely covering his feet, and the collar seemed larger than usual. He kept it popped up and pulled close to his face, obscuring his features. The only thing she could make out were his dark eyes, shining like polished onyx from the shadow cast by the collar. Carrie had taken to referring to him as the Trenchman. Since his arrival, things had gotten strange, and she couldn’t help but think he was directly responsible, but she didn’t know how, since all he did was stand there.

First the power had gone out, followed by cellular and landlines and the Internet shortly after. Carrie had no way to contact anyone, and nobody could contact her. Her parents were gone now, the first victims of the Trenchman, on the second day he’d been there. Carrie had told her parents that the man had been standing across the street, staring at her window, for the past two days, so her father strutted across the street while her mother watched from the lawn, Carrie from her window. Her father engaged him politely, as she knew he would. The Trenchman reached out and pulled her father’s face off. He didn’t rip it off like the bloody, gore-filled scenes she’d watched in monster movies. Instead, the Trenchman simply grabbed the skin below her father’s chin between his thumb and forefinger and peeled it off like he was removing a bandage.

The Trenchman opened his coat just enough to slip her father’s face inside. His body swayed before collapsing on the sidewalk. Carrie’s mother screamed from the lawn and dashed across the street. She knelt next to her fallen husband for a moment before standing up to confront the Trenchman. He reached out, grabbed her face in the same manner, peeled it away, and slipped it into his coat. Carrie watched as her mother’s body wobbled for a moment before collapsing next to her father’s.

By the fifth day, bodies piled up on the sidewalk around the Trenchman. Carrie could only watch from her window as he removed the faces of most of her neighbors, the mailman, random passersby, even a few police officers who couldn’t call for backup, since their radios weren’t working either. One by one, the Trenchman peeled their faces off with no noticeable effort and added them to the collection in his coat.

Carrie sat at her window, watching the Trenchman watch her. They watched each other until the sun began to rise, and the Trenchman held up all five fingers of his left hand and one from his right. Carrie stepped away from the window and knew what had to happen next. During the whole fifth day, nobody approached the Trenchman. No one else was coming. Now it was her turn. She was the only one left.

Carrie slipped on her winter coat. She stepped into her boots and pulled the fur that lined the hood of her coat close to her face so she could smell it one last time. Then she stepped outside. The piles of bodies looked much different from this vantage point, like they’d gotten impossibly bigger. Thin wafts of steam rose steadily from the bodies, something she hadn’t noticed from her window. Another thing she didn’t expect was the smell, rather, the lack thereof. Carrie thought the dead bodies would produce an overpowering stench, but she smelled only the crispness of the winter air.

There was a clear path from Carrie’s front door directly to the Trenchman, and she wondered if he did this on purpose, having some kind of power over where the bodies fell. The collar still hid his face, but Carrie could see the floating black orbs still trained on her from the shadow. She pulled her jacket closed and held it tightly against her body as she began to walk towards the Trenchman. He stood frozen; the only movement came from the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathed calm and evenly. She studied the bodies as she walked by. They all were faceless, only instead of the bloody, exposed skulls she expected to see, there was only blank and featureless flesh. It sat smooth and flat across the space their faces used to occupy.

Carrie stepped up to the Trenchman and stood confidently, staring into the black eyes of his shadowed face. Several seconds of silence passed between the two, and Carrie thought the way his eyes were jumping around made it look like he was smiling.

“You made it six whole days,” said the Trenchman, finally breaking the silence.

“Yeah,” said Carrie, unsure if he expected her to answer.

“Too bad, I can do that standing on my head,” he said and reached out and tapped her on the shoulder. “You’re it! Oh, and good luck beating twenty-seven faces!”

“What?” asked Carrie. The Trenchman had already run past her, down the path, and into the house. The door slammed behind him.

Carrie stood puzzled, staring at the house as if she expected it to explain to her what had just happened. Suddenly, up in the window, her window, appeared the head of the Trenchman. He pulled down his collar to reveal that he was actually a little girl, a little girl who looked similar to Carrie, except for the eyes. The eyes remained black and continued projecting the ominous vibe. An icy wind blew and Carrie pulled her jacket to her body even tighter, noticing she was now wearing a large trench coat that scraped against the ground at her feet. A chill ran down her neck, and she pulled the oversized collar to cover her face and neck. She looked back to the window. The little girl smiled, waved, and held up a single finger. Carrie mimicked the action back to her to signify the start of day one.

She heard someone call to her and turned to see a man approaching from up the sidewalk, weaving in and out of the bodies without giving them a second look.

“Hey, buddy,” said the man. “What are you doing here? You can’t be here. You understand me?” Carrie sighed, and when the man was within arm’s reach, she grabbed the skin under his chin and peeled.

_______

John Wayne is an American actor who died in 1979. John Wayne Comunale is a writer for the comedic collective MicroSatan and contributes creative nonfiction for the theatrical art group BooTown. When he’s not doing that, he tours with the punk rock disaster  johnwayneisdead. He is the author of The Porn Star Retirement Plan and writer/illustrator of the comic-zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead.

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Flash Fiction Friday is edited by Eric Hendrixson, who is mostly biodegradable. He is the author of Drunk Driving Champion and Bucket of Face. You can send him bizarro flash fiction stories for this series by pasting them into the body of an email (no attachments or flamboyant formatting) to  FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com. Submissions should be no longer than 1000 words and in the bizarro genre.

Now Available: Puppet Skin

Puppet Skin, the latest book from bizarro humorist Danger Slater, has just been released by Fungasm Press! Fungasm is an imprint of high quality weirdness, and Danger Slater is one of the funniest weirdos in the scene right now. See for yourself by getting a copy right now.

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Hannah graduates from middle school on Friday. That’s the day she transforms into a living puppet, like her parents and teachers before her. No longer a human girl made of flesh and feelings, but a perfect wooden new self, whose strings lead up from her limbs into an endless black void above. With no pain. No sorrow. No sickness. No fear.

But Hannah has begun to suspect that something is very, very wrong. And in a world where emotion is treated like a disease, and unknown terrors lurk inside everyone, just keeping your soul alive past childhood might be the greatest challenge of all.

“PUPPET SKIN is a dark, grotesquely-beautiful Bizarro nightmare fable for alienated teens of all ages. If you’ve ever felt lost in this deranged universe, Danger’s book knows exactly what you mean.” – John Skipp, author of THE LIGHT AT THE END and THE ART OF HORRIBLE PEOPLE

“An innovative circus show of all things weird and wonderful…[Puppet Skin is] The Catcher in the Rye meets Saw in a borderline dystopian fairytale gone wrong.” – CULTURED VULTURES

“Bizarro horror at it’s best!” – SPLATTERPUNK ZINE

“Danger Slater is fearless, and should be ashamed of himself. Thank God he’s not.” – JOSH MALERMAN, author of Bird Box

“Slater has taken Bizarro fiction to the next level.” – DIRGE MAGAZINE

Now Available: Grudge Punk 2: Petroleum Precinct

Rooster Republic Press has released a sequel to Grudge Punk, a collection of bizarro noir by author John McNee. Grudge Punk 2: Petroleum Precinct, is available for Kindle and features cover art that moves:

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The King of Eyes is dead. Long live the King.

The Grudge just ain’t what she used to be. In the aftermath of a bloody mob war, the city is without a kingpin, but not short of hoods spoiling to claim the title. Into the fray steps Lieutenant Sternhammer, of the reviled and corrupt Grudgehaven Police Department.

His mission: rebuild the reputation of his fellow cops and re-establish their dominance in the eyes of the public. His target: the cunning and ruthless gangster, Chupa Junior. His battleground: Chupatown, the worst slum in the city.

No easy task, even without all those other little complications, like headless jazz musicians, duplicitous pimps, a serial killer targeting gold-hearted women and whatever strange, powerful mystery lurks within the bowels of…

PETROLEUM PRECINCT

Get it here

Flash Fiction Friday: A Late Start

By John Bruni

My eye cracks open. It’s unusual for me to wake up before my alarm clock goes off. I check my phone and—holy shit! It’s 8:29 am! I have to be at work in one minute!

I don’t have time to eat or brush my teeth. The commute from Elmhurst to Schaumburg can take between twenty to forty minutes. I can’t afford to be so late.

I dress and rush out the door to my car. I drive as fast as I can to the expressway. Thank Christ it looks like traffic is moving swiftly. I get over to the left lane and get up to eighty-five miles per hour. No one’s ahead of me, so I gun it to ninety-five.

I check the dashboard. Still 8:29. Good.

Oh shit. I just passed a cop. Please don’t see me. Please don’t see me. Please—

Fuck. He saw me. Lights flash, and he zooms up to my ass. He’s gotta be pissed, but I can’t be late. I press my foot down as far as it can go. I check the time. Still 8:29.

I look up just in time to see that traffic has stopped, and I’m about to crash into the car that has magically appeared in front of me. I scream, twisting the wheel to the left. I veer away from the jam and hit the ditch so hard that my car flips. The roof caves in, and I hang from my seatbelt. The airbag goes off and punches me in the face.

Son of a bitch. I’m not going to make it to work on time. The dashboard is crumpled, so I can’t check the clock.

Someone knocks on the driver’s side window, and I remember the cop car. I’m in serious shit. I see the cop’s legs, and they seem too white for this world.

He opens the door and cuts me free of my seatbelt. He helps me out of the car, and when I straighten out, I see it’s Andy Griffith. Or Andy Taylor, rather.

“You’re in a spot of trouble, son,” he says.

“You’re darned tootin’!”

I look around Andy to see Barney Fife rushing up to me, wagging his finger in my face. Both he and Andy are in glorious black and white.

“Am I going to jail?” I ask. “I need to call my boss if I am.”

“You know what we oughta do, Andy? I think we oughta rape him!”

What. The. Fuck.

“Now, now, Barn. We can’t just go around rapin’ folks. He is going to jail, though. Turn around, son.”

Shit. I comply. He fits the handcuffs on. They’re tight and cold against my skin. He pushes me forward until we reach the cruiser. Barney opens the back, and Andy gently eases me in.

But I’m not in the back of a car. I’m in a castle. I turn around to see a door-shaped hole, but when Andy closes it, reality fills in.

“Good evening.”

I turn back around to see Dracula standing at the top of a staircase. Not Lugosi or Lee or even Langella. It’s Gary Oldman.

“Um,” I say, “do you have the time? I’m going to be late for work.”

“You shall be much later, then. Girls?” He gestures at me.

There are three women suddenly around me. All are incredibly hot, and they wear gauzy see-through gowns. They grin, showing off their fangs.

“Take good care of my guest. Don’t hurt him . . . too much.”

They lead me into the next room, a bedroom. They tie me up to a chair and drag me over to a computer on a table in the corner. They start to bicker over who gets to show me their blog first. They settle on Cauldron of Goth. It’s so bad I kind of wish they’d drain me of blood and be done with it.

Just when I consider chewing my own tongue off to choke myself, the door explodes. I whip my head around to see Alex Jones bearing a cross and holy water. He charges the brides of Dracula, driving them back hissing and glaring.

“That’s right, you undead concubines!” he says. “Stay back! I’ll toast your ass!”

“When did you become a vampire slayer?” I ask.

“Just after I was Bill Hicks. I created Alex Jones as a cover. I’ve been killin’ vamps ever since.”

He makes short work of my bonds—even the handcuffs—so I thank him as I stand.

“I’ll hold ‘em off,” Alex Jones says.

The door he came through is gone, just a brick wall, so the only way out is the window. But we must be a hundred feet up. There’s no way I can do this.

“You have to climb down the wall!” Alex Jones shouts. “Hurry! I can’t hold ‘em off much longer!”

Here goes nothing. I grab a hold of the wall, and I’m shocked by how easy this is. It’s like I’m Spider-Man. I crawl down face-first until I reach the ground.

There! About a block away! I see my office building! I rush across the grassy field and feverishly work at opening the door with my badge. I dart in and slam my ID card against the machine that punches me in.

It beeps.

The time switches from 8:29 to 8:30.

Whew!

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John Bruni once killed a man and proved it by clipping the toenails of his victim and cloning him. He usually writes some kind of drunken gibberish on his blog, Goodnight, Fuckers. He is the author of several novels and short stories, many of which can be found here.

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Want in on this? Submit up to three bizarro flash fiction stories at a time, pasted into the body of an email (no attachments) to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com and include a brief bio. Put the title of your submission in the subject line of the email.

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