Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Dark Discovery

I started publishing short stories in the (very) late eighties. When it came to magazines, the big dog in those days was Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, but it was on its last legs. TZ vanished just as a new generation of dot-matrix pulp mags were gearing up.

Now pulp is a familiar term. The dot-matrix refers to a generation of magazines designed on that wiz-bang first generation of "home computers." Mostly these mags were put together by young editors looking to have some fun and maybe claw their way out of fandom into the big leagues while they were at it. A lot of these 'zines were run off at local copy shops or printed through small regional printshops. Some of them even hung around long enough to become the real deal -- Dave Silva's The Horror Show, Rich Chizmar's Cemetery Dance, Peggy Nadramia's Grue, and Mark Rainey's Deathrealm, to name a few.

I cut my teeth selling stories to those magazines...and, hey, though I never did crack The Horror Show, I have fond memories of my interactions with Dave. Of the others, it was a pleasure to watch them grow and to grow with them. Unfortunately, I don't see too many venues like that today, and young writers are looking elsewhere for opportunities. A lot of the markets for short fiction have moved online, and there aren't too many publishers interested in marketing a hold-in-your-hands magazines today. More's the pity.

An exception is James Beach with his quarterly mag, Dark Discoveries. I've been following DD for several issues now, and it's gotten to the point where I count on losing an afternoon every time a new one shows up in my mailbox. The last several DD's have been especially good -- with special issues devoted to The Twilight Zone and the core group of SoCal writers who drove the show, a Forrest J. Ackerman special, and the latest issue -- a special devoted to H. P. Lovecraft. This one is chock-full of good stuff, with fiction by Lovecraft himself (w/ Brian Lumley), W. H. Pugmire, and young-gun Cody Goodfellow. Not to mention interviews with Lumley and Lovecraft scholar/editor S. T. Joshi, along with plenty of other top-drawer nonfiction (including a really fun piece on Lovecraft's Mythos in Marvel comics which sent me digging through boxes of seventies issues in search of some of the source material).

My only beef with Beach's mag is the occasionally wonky design work, which sometimes makes me wish I could pluck out an eyeball and roll it across the page like a scanner. But I'm hoping that will calm down a bit in coming issues. In the meantime, you can check 'er out yourself over at the Dark Discoveries website. After all, if you like horror, this is the good stuff. Here's hoping DD will be around for a long, long time.