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It would be easy – altogether far too easy – not to post this. The events I’m talking about are a week old and, with the world on fire, a week may as well be a thousand years in internet time. But not posting something like this is what helps it to keep happening, so here it is…

For longer than I’ve been a published writer, Mike Mignola has been the biggest influence there was on my work. His own work on Hellboy changed the way I thought about horror, folklore, weird fiction, and what I could accomplish with all of the above. If it weren’t for Mignola, I would have a very different career, to say the least.

What’s more, over the years, I was lucky enough to get to know him a little, and we became, if not friends, then at least friendly. He commented on my Facebook, we chatted at conventions and sometimes talked via Messenger. He has always been nice to me, and has always seemed like a genuinely decent person.

All of which makes what is going on right now so much more difficult. Last week, Shawna Gore came forward with a brave testimony about Scott Allie’s mistreatment, harassment, and sexual assault of her while they were both editors at Dark Horse.

For those who don’t follow the Mignolaverse doings as closely as I do, Scott Allie was Mike’s editor on pretty much everything he did for nearly a quarter of a century, and continued to work on Mignolaverse titles after he was no longer acting as an editor at Dark Horse.

Everyone, including Mike, immediately did the thing you do when something like this happens, which is, unfortunately, all too frequent nowadays: They posted that they believed Shawna, that they had no idea how bad things were, that they were severing all ties with Allie going forward, the whole nine yards.

You can read Mike’s post about the matter on his website at the moment, and the official response from Dark Horse on their Twitter. As almost always happens when this happens, though, Shawna’s testimony wasn’t the end of the story. Instead, it opened the floodgates.

That’s the thing about these situations. There are always floodgates. The hand-wringers and the whatabouters will fret endlessly about a false accusation (which are vanishingly rare anyway) destroying the career of a “good man.” But when these things come to light, it almost always exposes, not a single instance of poor judgement or misconduct, but a known pattern of behavior stretching back years.

John Arcudi and Guy Davis both came forward, publicly stating that Mike and Dark Horse knew about Allie’s behavior and chose to do nothing. Those aren’t just random names. They’re both folks who had worked closely with Mike and, by extension, Allie for years. Guy Davis even says that he quit comics over it, and his timeline certainly adds up.

What’s more, this isn’t the first time that Allie has gotten into trouble about this. Back in 2015, he sexually assaulted comic writer Joe Harris – who readers of this site may know as the guy who wrote the 2003 movie Darkness Falls – while drunk at a convention.

When that story broke, Allie’s history of misbehavior and harassment burst out of the whisper network and became public knowledge. Allie blamed alcoholism and went into rehab, or so the story goes, and everyone seems to have been all-too-willing to accept that explanation, and assume that Allie had done enough to make amends. Until, of course, it all came out again.

When confronted with these things, Mike has unfortunately either remained silent thus far or dug down behind his website statement. There are people saying that Mike absolutely knew more than he’s letting on, and other people saying that he was intentionally kept from the truth by Allie and others. For every person saying, “you knew, I told you,” there is someone else saying, “I kept it from you because you and he were friends.”

Even if we believe – as I am inclined to do, because of my own biases and blind spots – that Mike didn’t realize the extent of the problem because he couldn’t see it due to his biases and blind spots, as he claims in his website statement, we are still faced with a serious problem.

This sort of situation is exactly what allows these crimes to continue year after year, claiming victim after victim. The good ol’ boy network that makes it too easy to turn a blind eye when the rumors are about someone with whom you are on friendly terms, or who has always treated you well. It’s a set of biases and blind spots that we all have to work harder to interrogate and avoid.

I’ve also seen a number of people who worked with Allie saying that he was – as so many predators and abusers are – good at hiding and manipulating. “And he was so, SO good at using us against each other. And at cultivating relationships he could use as shields,” Jay Edidin posted on Twitter. “If you worked with him and didn’t see this: that’s not your fault.”

Creator Michael Avon Oeming shared a lengthy thread about being manipulated and lied to by Allie, about his regret over not realizing how bad things were sooner. Colorist Dave Stewart – who is nearly as synonymous with the Hellboy books as Mike himself – posted that he had to “dig around” to learn about Allie’s transgressions.

So, maybe Mike genuinely didn’t have any idea. I want to believe that he didn’t, so badly. But even if that’s true, we’re still left with this: cutting ties with Allie now just isn’t enough.

“Comics need to do better,” Mike writes in his website statement. “We all need to be more accountable.” That starts here and now, not the next time.

As one of the most successful independent creators in the business, Mike had – and still has – the power and position to help make a real difference in this toxic culture of enabling predation that exists throughout comics. He chose not to act earlier. He needs to take drastic action to help now.

What’s more, however culpable Mike may or may not have been, Dark Horse is much more so. If Mike probably knew – or turned a blind eye without knowing what he was turning it to – then Dark Horse had to know, and willingly covered for Allie, continuing to employ him for years after his behavior was already public knowledge in 2015.

As part of their public statement, Dark Horse said that they were going to have a “zero tolerance” policy going forward, to which someone on Twitter immediately pointed out the name of another known harasser who works for them and said, “So they’re fired now, right?”

Here’s the thing about adopting a “zero tolerance” policy: it implies that you previously had a “tolerance” policy, which, in this instance, was obviously the case. A zero tolerance policy, like firing Scott Allie and not working with him again, is the bare minimum here. Both Dark Horse and Mike need to do more than the minimum.

We want to believe the very best about those companies and people who create the stuff that we love, the stuff that means the most to us. But we need to base those beliefs on who they actually are and what they actually do, not any affection we have for them. They need to be worthy of our admiration.

The last line of Mike’s website statement says, “As a creator I need to do better, I need to set a better example, both in the stories I tell and the people I choose to tell them with.” He’s right. Let’s hope that starts now.

And I don’t mean the weird, clunky, Kirby-like grays that show up in Hellboy, nor Mike’s take on Martian tripods from his Year of Monsters series of covers. I mean aliens as in the movie Aliens. Or, to be somewhat more accurate, the various Dark Horse comic series that spun out from the movies.

Today is Alien Day (4/26), and a few years ago about this time I posted a little about what the Alien franchise has meant to me throughout the years. Today, I’m going to be too busy to put together anything that says it better, even if I could.

27253But I’ve also talked a lot, over the years, about what Mike Mignola’s work means to me, and to see the two things dovetail is a rare treat indeed. Mike drew the Aliens: Salvation comic (written by Dave Gibbons, himself perhaps best known as the artist on Watchmen) back in 1993.

It is an amazing comic; evocative, gothic, monstrous. But Mike’s style has evolved a lot in the years since ’93, and one of the great pleasures of my life was seeing his more recent take on the same material when he drew a new cover for the story’s hardcover reissue back in 2015.

Around that time, I posted something to the effect that the way other people must feel when they see a new Star Wars movie coming out is how I feel when Mike Mignola draws Aliens.

Plenty of other artists and writers have taken swipes at the Alien mythos to great effect. Recently, I particularly enjoyed James Stokoe’s Aliens: Dead Orbit. His hyper-detailed yet still stylized art is a perfect fit for the material.

For this Alien Day, I’m too busy to watch any of the movies, so maybe I’ll read Aliens: Salvation again instead…

February has been extremely busy for me so far, and I’m still behind on lots of things from the cough that has kept me a prisoner since the end of October (it’s still here, by the way, but it is gradually weakening). Which is why you haven’t heard from me much in the last couple of weeks.

But last Saturday I went thrifting with Eli (of Analog Sunday fame) for his birthday, then back to his place to watch some weird tapes, as we are wont to do. Thrifting was a huge success, and I’ve been posting some of my loot over on Instagram, if you wanna go be jealous.

I’ve made a few other stops various places while I was out running this or that errand lately, and had similarly great luck, as has Grace in her efforts to track down rare and unusual dice. So, while February has still been extremely busy, it has also been nice.

I’ll take busy and nice. And today, I got an email from a client telling me that I was getting an unasked-for raise on my regular freelance rates from them due to the “consistent positive feedback from our editors in regards to your work.” Which is always a nice thing to hear.

So, not every day is great, but today is pretty good. I’ll take it.

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Today, I finally made it out to the theatre to catch Avengers: Endgame, which means that I have now seen all 22 of the “Infinity Saga” (or whatever they’re calling it) films in the theatre, and I have done my duty by them (and they by me). I know that technically Phase 3 isn’t over until Spider-Man: Far From Home, but while I have every reason to assume I will see that in a theatre, too, this feels like the ending to me, and I’m good with that.

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I’m not really here to talk about Endgame, though. I’m here to talk about my books. Today is also the last day to pre-order Revenge of Monsters from the Vault direct from the publisher. The book will still be for sale through the regular channels when it launches in August, but we appreciate direct sales, and they put more money into my pocket. So if you’re thinking about buying Revenge of Monsters from the Vault (and I sincerely hope that you are) now is the ideal time to do it. But please hurry!

If you’re just coming here from… somewhere else, Revenge of Monsters from the Vault is the follow-up to my 2016 book Monsters from the Vault and, as such, it’s a collection of a whole bunch of essays about various classic (and not-so-classic) horror films from the silents to the ’70s, including such beloved and obscure titles as Condemned to LiveRevolt of the ZombiesThe Devil Bat, not one but two versions of The Black CatReturn of the VampireThe Giant ClawZombies of Mora TauDark IntruderX: The Man with X-Ray EyesBrotherhood of SatanThe Creeping Flesh, and lots more. If you’d like a taste of what you’re in for, you can read my essay on Toho’s “Bloodthirsty Trilogy” of Dracula movies right here.

Not already familiar with the previous volume? Not to worry, you can actually pick it up in a package deal with Revenge of Monsters from the Vault if you pre-order right now!

Today is also Walpurgisnacht. As most of you know, I wrote a story called “Walpurgisnacht” which originally appeared in the Laird Barron tribute anthology Children of Old Leech, and has since been reprinted in my second collection, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts. If you’ve already read that one, though, plenty of other seasonally appropriate stuff can be found in my latest collection, Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales. I think “When a Beast Looks Up at the Stars” would be particularly well suited to the evening’s festivities, don’t you?

Speaking of witches, I was also a guest on the latest episode of the Nightmare Junkhead podcast where I talked in some rambling detail about my feelings on the new Hellboy movie (which has more than a few witches), the comics, Brian Lumley, and lots of other topics of occult interest. Greg D. and Jenius McGee of the Nightmare Junkhead podcast are the same cool folks who put on the Nerdoween Triple Feature that has become my birthday/Halloween staple every year, so it was a real pleasure to finally sit down with them in their inner sanctum.

Let us not bury the lede here: There is just over a week left to pre-order Revenge of Monsters from the VaultYou can get it direct from the publisher, avoid putting money in Amazon’s pocket by putting a little extra in mine, and get some special deals that you won’t be able to get any other way. If you’re planning to order, pre-ordering now is definitely the best way to do it! Go forth! Click!

It has obviously been a little while since I updated here. I didn’t post any kind of wrap-up of the Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird in Atlanta because, frankly, the trip was a bit of a whirlwind, and I’m just now getting more-or-less fully recovered. Tyler Unsell of Signal Horizon and I drove overnight to get there, had a full day of programming, and then drove all day coming back. Not an ideal itinerary for restful cogitation.

Highlights, of course, include the various panels and readings of the Symposium itself, meeting Ben Thomas for the first time face-to-skull, hanging out with old friends like Jesse and Selena, and, of course, the Silver Scream FX lab where the Symposium was held, which was piled to the brim with monsters and magicians. Any more in-depth an exploration is simply beyond my capabilities at present.

monsters single coverI managed to come home without loading up on too many books, though I did pick up a copy of Whiskey Tales. I’ve been a fan of Jean Ray’s weird fiction ever since reading “The Mainz Psalter” and his classic weird novel Malpertuis, and I have been frustrated by the paucity of Ray stories that have been readily available in English, so it was with great pleasure that I learned that Scott Nicolay was taking it upon himself to translate the body of that writer’s collection of tales of the fantastique and with equal enjoyment that I read through this first installment, even if the stories themselves are a tad more prosaic than his more famous works–and a lot more anti-Semitic, more’s the pity.

In the time since my return from Atlanta, several things have happened that are worth noting, at least in brief. For starters, I received the gargantuan box containing the first part of my Hellboy boardgame, which I Kickstarted from Mantic Games some time ago. The box is as enormous as predicted, and filled with room tiles, miniatures, delightful cards, and all manner of fun stuff. To date, I’ve only essayed a couple of missions, but it has been a great deal of fun so far.

Speaking of all things Hellboy, well, there are lots of things Hellboy to speak of. Hellboy Day, marking the 25th anniversary of the series, happened while I was in Atlanta, and I was forced to miss the festivities, though I marked them as best I was able with an essay in appreciation of Mignola’s work that is included in the Symposium program book, alongside an illustration by Mignola himself.

Then, last weekend, the latest attempt at transposing the comics onto the big screen, this time helmed by Neil Marshall, hit theaters. So of course I went to see it. My reaction was… complicated. If that’s not enough of me rambling about it, you’ll be able to hear more when I’m a guest on the Nightmare Junkhead podcast soon, where we’ll be talking about the movie.

What’s more, yesterday saw the publication of the last issue of the regular B.P.R.D. series, which rings down the curtain on at least the “present day” of the Mignolaverse titles. There’s plenty of “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.”-style adventures still left to see print, I’m sure, but this is certainly the end of an era, and it was delivered with sufficient pomp and circumstance.

I also published a few more reviews of older films for Signal Horizon and have penned more that are forthcoming over at Unwinnable, and I appeared on Monster Kid Radio talking about The Vampire Doll. If you like what you hear there, The Vampire Doll is just one of the many, many, many classic (and not-so-classic) monster movies I cover in Revenge of Monsters from the Vault, which, once again, you can pre-order right now!

Putting this here because I’m going to get asked more than once, and I need a place to point people back to for the next four months or so. The trailer for the new Hellboy movie just dropped and, yeah, it’s scored to “Mony Mony,” which, as I said on social media, is certainly a decision, anyway.

If you want my take, I think that the trailer is the wrong tone to start off with, but there’s also nothing in it that guarantees a misfire in theatres. I do like that most of the stuff we can only see for a few seconds is straight out of the comics but, beyond that, we’ll just have to wait and see.

But I’m not here to talk about the trailer, not really. What I’m here to talk about is the existence of this movie at all. As someone who is at least on speaking terms with some of the principals involved, I can tell you with as much certainty as one can ever muster about a Hollywood deal to which one was not directly privy that there was never going to be a third Guillermo del Toro Hellboy movie, regardless of anything he might have said. If there was, the day when it was possible was in the months following the release of Hellboy 2, and that day is long behind us now.

And, speaking from my own personal perspective, there never should have been. Hellboy 2 has many fine qualities, to be sure, but it fails as a sequel to the first film and even more as a Hellboy movie.

Guillermo del Toro’s first film was the best Hellboy movie that we could have gotten at the time, given the realities of comic book adaptations in 2004. In fact, I would argue that it played a big (and largely unsung) role in getting us from there to here. But things have changed a lot in the last decade, both in the movies and in the comics, and a Hellboy adaptation made now has the opportunity to cleave closer to the source material than Del Toro’s version ever could have.

Will this movie be the one to do it? Only time (and definitely not a brief teaser trailer) will truly tell.