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to write about a certain joy I'm experiencing knowing that the old Leisure Books horror stable has, to some extent, been replaced by Deadite Press.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