Friday, November 30, 2012

Remembering Count Pugsly

The above photo changed my life.  I first saw it in an issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and I thought it was the coolest vampire I had ever seen.  The image took on mystical qualities when I learned it was from one of Chaney;s "lost" films.  When, as a teenager, I got my first job, it was working for a weird museum, then called Jones' Fantastic Show, then later called Jones' Fantastic Museum.  My job was to wear a cloak with the name of the museum on the back and a series of rubber masks.  Then I found a wig in the box that was filled with masks, and the idea came to me to begin doing a vampire makeup based on Chaney's.  Thus was Count Pugsly born.

This was a great job for a kid who was obsessed with Universal and Hammer horror films!  I was determined, as a kid, that my professional occupation would be an actor in horror films.  Thus, when I was in costume as ye Count, I never broke character, and my vampyr persona really "got" to people.  One of the great things about the museum was that we had a chamber of horror, and I would sometimes pose in some dark corner, pretending to be one of the many weird mannequins that the museum contained.  People would come close to investigate me, and then I would slowly move and totally freak them out.
 Later on we added a Circus Room to the museum, filled with life-size circus animals, a clown rag-time band, &c &c.  A special cage was built for me, in which I would sit pretending to be one more life-size mechanical figure.  Figures around me would move when museum patrons flipped switches, so I would move too, slowly at first, and then I would leap like a ferocious beast and grab my cage's bars.  Kids loved being frightened and would run screaming, and then return with even more friends.

Count Pugsly became a famous local figure, often appearing in newspapers and such.
or going for a deposit at ye local bloodmobile

and there were even some artistic interpretations

I even had a girlfriend in high school who grooved on the vampire look.
I purchased a new wig and hat when I was serving as a Mormon missionary in Las Vegas, after being transferred from the Ireland Mission due to health concerns. 

 One of my happiest days was when I picked up an issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland #69.  Lon Chaney Sr. was on ye cover as his infamous vampire 

A filmbook of LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT was ye main feature.  And Uncle Forry had dedicated the issue -- to me!

and there, below ye dedication, was a photo of Count Pugsly.  Pretty damn rad.

The hat and wig have deteriorated and been tossed.  I keep thinking I might find new ones so as to do some YouTube videos as Pugsly.  I still have the original cloak that I wore at the museum.  What a wonderful prelude, that job was, to becoming an underground horror author.

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's a New World

Ah--I remember when an S. T. Joshi publication was a thing of somber seriousness.  How things have mutated!  Rather delightful, really, and I'm always happy to see my name on a cover.

I've been rereading THE STRANGE DARK ONE, looking for errors that slipped by me when I scanned over the pdf file.  I should have done more than scan, but I was confident that all of the errors had been caught by Jeffrey Thomas and myself--we really studied the stories for typos.  But it is ye cosmic rule: typos will not be caught.  The worst, for me, is in a story where I quote some lines from Clark Ashton Smith's poem, "The Dark Eidolon."  The first quoted line, as it appears in my book, is thus:
"A wizard wind goes drying eerily..."
Drying???  oy...

I shall be reprinting the story "The Strange Dark One" in my next book, Bohemians of Sesqua Valley (Arcane Wisdom Press), because it fits so well with ye theme of that book.  At the end of the story, one of my recurring characters, a child of Sesqua Valley, is stolen by an Outer One and taken to the Dreamlands.  Reading over "The Strange Dark One" as I corrected and revised its text for its hardcover publication, it came to me that I'd like to write a sequel to my own tale, in which Simon Gregory Williams goes into the Dreamlands so as to rescue the stolen child.  I think I can have some jolly fun with that idea.

Speaking of Simon, the amazing artist, Joe Broers, has captured ye Beast in sculpture:
Quite wonderful!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Filmed at Cyclops Cafe

I love that this was put on YouTube.  I have it on video.  It was such a fun interview, and it brings back lots of memories, especially of the old Fun Forest amusement rides at the Seattle Center.  The Fun Forest was closed and all of the rides are now gone, so this is especially nice, to see their memory captured here.  I worked as a ride operator for a year or two, and I loved operating that kiddie roller coaster.  And the water boat ride was my all-time favorite to ride on.  When I worked at the Jones Fantastic Museum, as Count Pugsly, I used to love to ride the merry-go-round, where one of the horses was a dragon.  I would open my vampire cloak so that it would billow behind me.  I haven't been to the Seattle Center since the rides were closed, and I doubt I will ever go there again


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Now In Print! Ia!!

The Strange Dark One--Tales of Nyarlathotep is now publish'd & available from my publisher, Miskatonic River Press -- and will soon be available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and other sites.  The book will also be available as an ebook for those who prefer Kindle.  It seems that I've been waiting forever for this book to appear, but part of my anxiety is rooted in knowing that it is a book I have wanted to share with my readers for a long time--all of my (at the time we edited the book) best tales concerning Nyarlathotep.  This Outer God continues to fascinate me--I am hypnotized and captivated.  He will figure in the novel I hope to begin to write next month.  I do sincerely feel that this is one of my "special" books, and I hope all who read it enjoy it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"The Tomb"

Above, a mammoth tomb at Swan Point Cemetery.  I visited the site in October of 2007, at which time I spent four days in Providence.  I've been thinking of Swan Point because I am studying H. P. Lovecraft's :The Tomb," in anticipation of writing my own "version" of that tale.  This is my new wee thing--writing my own takes on the fiction of Lovecraft, or sequels to stories by Bloch and Derleth, &c.  The story I have been trying to write, about Hangman's Hill in Arkham, simply isn't working, it refuses to spill from my crack'd skull.  After nearly two months of trying to write it, I have given up and nigh seek a new artistic path.  But I want to write a graveyard tale, and thus I immediately thought of "The Tomb."  Writes S. T. Joshi, in ye Penguin edition, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (pg. 368):

"'The Tomb' was written in June of 1917, the first story HPL had written since 1908.  ,,, HPL noted that the genesis of the story occurred in June 1917, when he was walking with his aunt Lillian Clark through Swan Point Cemetery and came upon a tombstone dating to 1711.  'Why could I not talk with him, and enter more intimately into the life of my chosen age?  What had left his body, that it could no longer converse with me?  I looked long at that grave, and the night after I returned home I began my first story of the new series--"The Tomb."'"

There is much in that paragraph that entices my imagination.  I am one of those weird children who has always loved the aura of graveyards, and one of my favorite childhood haunts was a place I called "Graham Hill Graveyard," where I would go and play among the broken tombs that were surrounded by overgrowth.  I would sometimes dress up in my vampire costume and have my photo taken there.

It was a happy place for me.  The same, alas, cannot be said of Swan Point, when my friends took me there to visit Lovecraft's graveside.  Looking at E'ch-Pi-El's tombstone fill'd me with unmitigated sorrow, because I could not help but reflect that Grandpa went to his grave probably thinking himself a failure as a writer.  He became more and more dissatisfied with his work as he grew older, as more and more it was rejected by Weird Tales.  That is why I look so wretched in photos of me at Lovecraft's grave.
I could not stop my flow of tears.  I felt a sense of--well, it was almost a sense of guilt--that I was having books of my fiction publish'd, books of tales written in homage of H. P. Lovecraft--but he had never had a collection of his stories publish'd in his lifetime.  Perhaps I can use my intense woe of that moment as an ingredient in this story I now want to try and write, my own wee "version " of H. P. Lovecraft's "The Tomb."  We shall see.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


The expression on my mug, above, reveals my inner feelings of ye moment -- lost and weary, with an intense feeling of isolation.  I've come to the conclusion that the story I have been trying to write is the "wrong" story, or that it is something I really don't care to write.  I should have realised this when, week after week, it would not spill from my cracked skull, however much I thought about it and try'd to write it.  This isn't an aspect of writer's block, as I have mistaken it to be, but rather a wrong direction.  I suspect that writing will continue to be difficult, because of my household situation and inability to concentrate; but I worked within that household chaos this summer, in which I wrote a new collection and a long novelette.  So I know I can do it again, if I can get lost in some new work, something that captivates my imagination. 

I am more and more convinced that the writing of novels is the path I want to pursue in the future.  I'm still not quite certain that I have what it takes to write novels, the mind-set required to plot something of 80,000 words, to fill it with interesting characters and incidents, to understand the structure of novel writing, the build-up to narrative arc and all of that.  Guess I won't know until I fully try.  The desire to write novels has been triggered by a number of things, mostly from returning to my favorite novels by Henry James.  I've started re-reading THE TRAGIC MUSE and that very strange work, THE SACRED FOUNT. 
I've also been re-reading Leon Edel's five volume biography of James, which never fails to captivate me although I've read it numerous times.  James's life enchants me because he was so devoted to his art, his work as a writer.  I have now reached that point in life where I, too, live for my art, where little else has any meaning for me.  More and more, it feels that my writing is all I have to hold on to, to keep me sane.  I suppose to think like that is a sign that not all is well, mentally or emotionally; but if inner chaos results in the creation of new books, cool.

So now I get to re-think where I am, what I want to do next.  The way to find my path comes, mostly, from reading.  The books that inspire me most are biographies of other writers--I devour them, and as I read I sigh that I am a part of this rich Literary sphere.  Hmm, have I ever done a Henry James video?  I cannot recall.  Oh, yes!

Thursday, November 1, 2012