O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Ah! but it was something to have at least a choice of nightmares. (Joseph Conrad, from Heart of Darkness)
In case you hadn’t noticed, today is Halloween. It can be hard for me to understand how I can love some horror comic books, yet hold such an aversion to horror movies, so I asked acclaimed horror comic book writer – Steve Niles – if he would to talk about what it is that makes horror comic books so appealing, how he writes, and what we can look forward to from him in the future.
Sonia Harris: It is ironic that horror is probably my most hated genre, yet in comics it is often one I gravitate towards. Perhaps it is because elsewhere there is such a lack of grit.
Steve Niles: There really aren’t many other genres besides superhero in comics. Horror is a great genre. You’re automatically on edge simply because it called horror. The anticipation of being scared is a huge factor.
“We start our lives in chaos, in babble. As we surge up into the world, we try to devise a shape, a plan. There is dignity in this. Your whole life is a plot, a scheme, a diagram. It is a failed scheme but that’s not the point. To plot is to affirm life, to seek shape and control. Even after death, most particularly after death, the search continues. Burial rites are an attempt to complete the scheme, in ritual. Picture a state funeral, Jack. It is all precision, detail, order, design. The nation holds its breath. The efforts of a huge and powerful government are brought to bear on a ceremony that will shed the last trace of chaos. If all goes well, if they bring it off, some natural law of perfection is obeyed. The nation is delivered from anxiety, the deceased’s life is redeemed, life itself is strengthened, reaffirmed.”
“Are you sure?” I said.
“To plot, to take aim at something, to shape time and space. This is how we advance the art of human consciousness.” (Don DeLillo, from White Noise)
“What of the success of the Expulsion?” Carranque asked. The driver was momentarily silenced.
“Success for the Catholics?” I ventured.
“Certainly not, Señora.” Now it was Carranque who laughed. “The Expulsion of the Jews was an unmitigated disaster for the Catholics. For a brief time, Their Catholic Majesties feasted on the properties and treasures left behind by the running Jews. But after a very short while they awoke to the truth that their best and their brightest had fled. Gone were their merchants, their statesmen, their doctors, their artisans and their artists, their poets, their musicians, their singers, and their leatherworkers. Without its Jews, Spain dried up into the shriveled olive it is today.”
“So the success?”
“Was the success of the Jews — the Jews who fled to Morocco, to Italy, to Greece, to Turkey, to the Netherlands. They spread their art and learning across the Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibraltar and northward into Europe. They made a virtue of exile, found their greatest reward in exile, found their humanity, their lost identity, in exile.” (Jonathan Levi, from A Guide For The Perplexed)
We have done as much with the matter of birth and parenting, dividing ourselves into different teams – pro-Thisers or pro-Thaters – with no middle ground, as there seldom is in matters of life and death. The debate is controlled by the extremes, each side shouting answers and accusations over the heads of the people in between, who are kept from formulating questions by the din of the argument all around them. Each paints the other with a broader brush. Each has an arsenal of names and adjectives to deploy against the other side. No one listens. Everyone screams. (Thomas Lynch, from The Undertaking)
For them it might stave off what he could not help but see with clarity: that the world was silent and cold and bare and that in this lay its terrible beauty. (David Guterson, from Snow Falling on Cedars)
“That’s one of the Devil’s main tricks, of course. Fill a man with faith. What evils, what absolute horrors the noble sword of faith sends pouring into the world!” (John Gardner, from Freddy’s Book)
“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” (Italo Calvino, from Invisible Cities)
And so I stood perfectly still with folded arms, allowing my eyes to receive the tracery of apian flight, so like curling silver strings in the air. White butterflies, faint as powder on a mirror, yet imbued with the mysterious force of life, hovered and flitted, half-powered by their own efforts and half-carried by the breeze. That all these creatures, and all these plants and dirt and blossoms, from the earthworms to the dung beetles, to the rhododendrons, catnip, delphinium, clematis, lupine, campanula, and bearded iris should all come together here in this spot to create this wondrous place seemed a fact beyond all possibility of mere formality, betokening some kind of marvelous presence having the sense of an artist and the mechanical persistence of an inventor. (Steve Szilagyi, from Photographing Fairies)
“There were little white puffs of clouds all across it, like a cat stepped in milk and then walked across the blue. I thought it was so beautiful I told Dmetro about it. He just stared at me. ‘I ain’t looked at the sky in ten years,’ he said.” (W. P. Kinsella, from The Iowa Baseball Confederacy)
Despair and idleness are, I think, the chief motives for religious devotion. When we have nothing on earth to do or hope for we gaze at the sky. We kiss the holy ikons because we have nothing better to kiss. (Lawrence Durrell, from Pope Joan)
Was the rise of the radical intelligentsia desirable, was their unchecked progress necessary in order that mankind might be led to the broad uplands of democratic freedom? Or was the very concept of democratic freedom a blind alley, developed to make the world safe for an intelligentsia which is only happy when playing at politics, at no matter what cost in suffering to the multitude? (Edward Crankshaw, from The Fall of the House of Habsburg)
He had built empires of scientific capability to manipulate the phenomena of nature into enormous manifestations of his own dreams of power and wealth – but for this he had exchanged an empire of understanding of equal magnitude: an understanding of what it is to be a part of the world, and not an enemy of it. (Robert M. Pirsig, from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
My granddaughter Andrea wrote a composition for school in which she said that she liked her “grandmother’s imagination.” I asked her what she was referring to, and without hesitation she replied, “You remember things that never happened.” Don’t we all do that? (Isabel Allende, from My Invented Country)
He lay with a pack of panting dogs on a hill overlooking plains where antelope grazed. He marched with ants, and labored in the rigors of the nest, filing eggs. He danced the mating dance of the bower bird, and slept on a warm rock with his lizard kin. He was a cloud. He was the shadow of a cloud. He was the moon that cast the shadow of a cloud. He was a blind fish; he was a shoal; he was a whale; he was the sea. He was the lord of all he surveyed. He was a worm in the dung of a kite. He did not grieve, knowing his life was a day long, or an hour. He did not wonder who made him. He did not wish to be other. He did not pray. He did not hope. He only was, and was, and was, and that was the joy of it. (Clive Barker, from Sacrament)
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