Summer, 2019-Chris Friend
Because of the huge popularity of the TV series, “Game of
Thrones,” I decided to start my summer issue of Mars with dragons. The dragon
myth can be found all over the world. They are often connected to the
elements, including the seasons, the weather, and all manner of natural phenomena.
In the Balkans, dragons are also weather demons. In Celtic myth, dragons are harbingers
of the Other World. In China, dragons are part of the earth and natural
forces. Some areas of Europe are often named after a saint known for slaying
dragons—such St. George or St. Michael (the Archangel). Many places associated
with dragons are also associated with fairies. Dragons are also guardians of
treasure hidden in caves.
Occasionally, fairies take the form of dragons. Fire drakes
are fairies who appear as dragons. Described as having long dinosaur-like
necks, bat wings, and massive jaws, they are commonly found in German and Celtic
fairy lore. They are said to have poor vision, but a good sense of smell.
They can be cunning and malicious, and often breathe fire from their mouths,
which helps them guard treasures. Sometimes the devil is symbolized as a dragon-like
monster with a few examples in the Bible, possibly a way to vilify the dragon’s
connection to older pagan religions.
Recently I read Stephen Jones’ exceptional anthology, The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories
(Skyhorse, 528 pages), and it was a good read. The past few years I
have noticed that Jones has quit publishing his Mammoth Book of Best New Horror
Stories, so this was the closest
thing I could find. The Halloween-inspired stories were quite original and yet
close to its holiday themes. Anytime Jones releases one of his horror
anthologies there is never a bad story in the mix. My own real grievance is
that there was not a single story (or poem) by Ray Bradbury. (Bradbury’s
classic “The Homecoming” would have fit in quite nicely.) But there were so
many excellent Halloween horror stories to make up for this oversight that I
give the anthology my highest recommendation.
On the topic of my beloved Halloween, I finally got around
to watching Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride,
which, I believe, was directed by Burton collaborator Henry Selick. As I get
older I’ve grown to love Burton’s more childlike films with their toy
universes. I’ve grown seriously sick of zombies and extreme splatter. Some of
Burton’s more mature films can be a bit violent, but even these are nowhere as
disgusting as many of the so-called torture-porn films, like The Hostel.
Of course, it depends on the level and nature of violence in the horror
film. I admit that I enjoyed Evil
Dead Two, but the violence is so cartoonish
(with blood usually being a
comic-book green), it lacks the cold-blooded sadism of the current crop of
torture porn. Maybe I’m being a bit of a hypocrite, but the unflinchingly
violent excesses of recent horror films are leaving me a bit cold. Maybe I’m
just growing old and soft. Who can say?
Happy summer, Earthlings.
Chris Friend, firstname.lastname@example.org, of Parkersberg,
, who wrote BP #85’s poem, “Demons Play Flutes”; BP # 84’s poems, “The
Sentinel” and “Psalm of Mithra”; the BP #81 poem set, “Angel of the Bereft,”
Beauty’s Sleep,” & “Dark Trinity”; the BP #80 poem, “The Temple of Colors”;
BP #79 poems, “The Marquis” and “My Bloody Valentine”; the BP #78 poem, “The
Old Yule Goat”; BP #77’s 4-poem set: “At 50,” “Owls,” “Vintage Halloween,”
& “Xmas in the Doll Asylum”; BP #76’s 4-poem set: “Hag Fairy Communion,”
“Love’s Sepulcher,” “Night Wanderer,” & “St. Andrew’s Feast”; 2 poems
BP #75, “Angel of the Pagan Dead” and “Churchyard Watcher”; BP #72’s 2-poem
set, “Ed Gein” & “Sour Puss”; and the 2008 poem, “All Hallows’ Eve,” writes
and illustrates our “MARS News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back in
2000 for the fall issue, and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two
websites for him and prints his column in the issue quarterly. Chris has a
gallery at http://chris.michaelherring.net/ and was featured
artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake)