Friday, July 6, 2012

The Rising Of Deadite Press

 Today I want to write about a certain joy I'm experiencing knowing that the old Leisure Books horror stable has, to some extent, been replaced by Deadite Press.

I was a member of Leisure's horror book club, and got small orgasms when their monthly box of books lobbed against my door. It's not often that horror comes to you in a surprise package like the one Leisure used to send. For their troubles, I paid them about twelve bucks a month. Hardly a fortune considering the work that goes into a book. I wasn't a fan of all the Leisure authors, and I must admit I read a dozen pages of some books and abandoned them. That was rare, though.

When it comes to horror, some themes just don't float my boat these days. I take a dim view of voodoo stories and voodoo rituals. Fuck off with that. I'm almost beyond being convinced to read another haunted house story. They've been done to death -- literally. Perhaps that's why writers keep writing them. It's arrogance. A belief that their haunted house story will be a fresh one. I'm sure it can be done, but it's hard to work up the energy to read another. New zombie stories are still appearing on bookshelves. I avoid them. Zero interest. Vampires? Time to lay them to rest for a while. Twilight pussified the genre while broadening one side of its audience. The side with vaginas and braces.

If you're on the fringes of or deep inside the horror community, you probably know about the demise of Leisure and the company's shabby treatment of its writers. Film distributors treat their filmmakers like this pretty much all the time, so Leisure's disrespect for writers didn't seem too shocking to me. Terrible, yes, and unforgivable, of course, but not shocking to someone who's been fucked upside-down and sideways by film distributors. Some Leisure authors such as Brian Keene, Bryan Smith, and JF Gonzalez extricated themselves and their book rights from Leisure and fled to Deadite; others are still untangling the mess Leisure left them in. There are rumors, however, that Amazon may offer refuge and some outstanding checks. I wish these folks well.

Deadite Press is an imprint of Eraserhead Press, the home of the Bizarro genre, and base of Bizarro Central. Deadite is releasing both new books and re-releasing older books. Some of Leisure's old horror titles are turning up on Deadite in refined versions with vivid new covers and in trade paperback size. As far as I know, Deadite doesn't have a monthly book club set-up, but their books are very reasonably priced and can be accessed via a link on their site. The link usually carries you through to Amazon. Titles I've purchased recently have been Like Porno For Psychos (Wraith James White), Genital Grinder (Ryan Harding), Hero (JF Gonzalez/White), The Cage (Brian Keene), The Dark ones (Bryan Smith), All You Can Eat (Shane McKenzie), and Take the Long Way Home (Keene).

The presentation of their books and cover art is really impressive and provocative; you get the impression that the folks behind Deadite really do give a flying fuck about what they're doing. Their love shows.  I've yet to see any crappy art like the shit poor old Ray Garten had to endure with Leisure's release of Bestial and Ravenous. Masterton's Blind Panic got fucked up the nasal passage, too. Gary A. Braunbeck's Coffin County paperback had a cover that was conceptually strong but poorly executed. It would hardly have jumped off the shelf at you.

To be fair, Leisure, under editor Don D'Auria, did a lot of things right, too, by getting behind some terrific writers and bestowing some books with potent cover art. Now, some of these guys and gals might argue that Leisure got close enough behind them to slip an unwanted penis (at least financially) into any available orifice, but it needs to be said that Leisure did create a profile for authors like Keene, Smith, Gonzalez, and Wrath James White, a profile that's enabled them to soldier forth into brighter theaters of literary combat. Sad really that it all had to end in a sweaty clusterfuck. Still, these four and others have migrated to Deadite and word from them has been that Deadite are good people whose definition of getting behind you involves check writing, promotion, and timely sales reports instead of fiscal rape.

Leisure's very impressive cover art for Lee's The Golem.

The not-so-striking art for Braunbeck's Coffin County.

I hope anybody who gives two hoots about horror gives Deadite a decent shot. I don't work for them, have no professional affiliation with them (not yet, anyway!), and don't receive free books for review. I just wanna see 'em doing well... because, if they're doing well, you're getting good horror at a bargain price. That's nothing to blow snot at.


  1. Great post! I'm liking Deadite a lot, and I'm very, very happy that some of Leisure's great authors found a new home. My only beef is, so many of their books are incredibly thin... they're glorified novellas. "Novels" are shrinking in this new day of "e-books" (oh, how I hate those) and because people can't SEE the thickness of books, and "file size" is something few can really picture, they're tricking us into accepting shorter and shorter works. But, that's not a big quibble, and I'm happy to see these books available, and in actual *print!* :)

  2. Zwolf -- yes, this is true, they are a bit thin. For me, the covers excuse that sin. I know that's irrational, but it's true for me. Also, because I grew up with 110 page Guy N. Smith novels from NEL, the shorter Deadites are not rubbing me the wrong way yet. I still haven't embraced e-Books, even though I have a few, but I'll never buy an e-Book if a paper version is available. My e-Book purchases have mostly been from Elektron. Long live 'Print'!

  3. It's really a shame Leisure couldn't keep its shit together, as they not only published some major horror fiction but made that fiction readily available outside the internet. That's something Deadite has yet to achieve. Also, to add my 2 cents to the too-thin debate: something that often bothered me about Leisure's books was that they tended to be overlong. It's been argued (convincingly) that horror fiction works best in the short story format, and anyway I don't see the point in taking 350 pages to tell a story that can just as easily be told in half that length--which I've found is the case with most horror novels.

  4. Leisure aka Dorkchester hurt so many of these guys and robbed them of their royalties. That said, I loved them while they were around. Though I found them late in their career they introduced me to some amazing authors such as White, Kewne, Lee and others. I am now lifetime fans of these fuss and others and Deadite is a great new home foutre them. Awesome article.

  5. I also love Deadite books and their authors. I agree with Zwolf also that the books are quite thin; probably a marketing tool to gain a couple more dollars. "Buy two 100-page books for 7.99 each instead of one 200-page books for 9.99" or something to that effect.

    My other qualm isn't an issue to many, but it's been committed by Deadite too many times for me to not say anything: typos. Misspellings (even in the Table of Contents of at least one book!), weird formatting issues, repeat chapter numbers, complete change of a characters name at the end of the book... (Unfortunately, all of these happen in Gonzalez's Survivor, which is a shame, since it's a great story otherwise. Doesn't help it's the "Author's Preferred Edition" with all those little issues that build up.)

    Anyways, enough negativity. Deadite is great. Anyone newbies looking to take the plunge into extreme horror would do well to pick up some of their titles. I recommend:

    Edward Lee -- Brain Cheese Buffet
    Wrath James White -- Book of 1,000 Sins
    Wrath James White -- Population Zero
    Dave Brockie* -- Whargoul
    Brian Keene -- Darkness On the Edge of Town

    *Brockie is a member of metal legends GWAR, nonetheless!

  6. A great and thorough article.

    Like everybody on this planet (or so it seems), I am an aspiring novelist who would love nothing more than to get a book, if not published, at least distributed by Deadite Press.

  7. Adamrg -- yes, I haven't seen many Deadite titles in bookstores yet. More common overseas perhaps.

    Some of the Leisures were a bit long. I've noticed that several books you've recommended have been short novels" AGAINST GOD, MR OVERBY IS FALLING, etc. I have no complaint if the book is solid. Of course, OVERBY is probably on the edge of being a true novella rather than a novel.


    Douglas -- yes, Deadite feels like a 'home' for these writers. The comfort of that inspired my piece.


    Anonymous -- point taken about typos in Deadite's version of SURVIVOR. I love SURVIVOR, so a bit disappointing to see this.

    Good recommendations. I like 'em all. Brockie's WHARGHOUL is a beauty.


    luciuspaisley -- rich ambitions... no reason why you shouldn't go for it... I have two in the works myself (nearing completion). I simply desire them to find one or two readers. Who knows?! I have little faith these days. What will be will be. Distribution can only do so much. Folks have to connect with it. That's not something, if you write honestly, you can predict. King, a very good writer, connects with many. Other writers, just as talented, connect with a few.

  8. On the basis of this I'm going to jump straight over to Amazon, and I reckon that Wharghoul will be my first purchase.

  9. My favorite release has been THE KILLING KIND from Bryan Smith. Someone needs to turn that into a film pronto

  10. Unknown -- THE KILLING kind is a beauty. Smith improves with every book.