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Weird Business. Written by various. Illustrated by various. Edited by Joe R. Lansdale and Richard Klaw. Austin, TX: Mojo Press, 1995. 414p. $29.95. ISBN 1-885418-02-7.

Weird Business cover


Adults, teens; nudity, profanity, adult situations, gore

A cast of thousands (well, a cast of lots, anyway) contributed to this anthology of 23 mostly horrific stories. Some are adaptations of classic SF or horror (or SF horror) stories by Ambrose Bierce, Robert Bloch, Michael Moorcock, Edgar Allan Poe, Howard Waldrop, and Roger Zelazny, but most are original works, including several by well-known pros Charles de Lint and Nancy A. Collins. Many of the artists and other writers are small-press or self-published folks; some are newcomers, but most have pedigrees in the business. Among the many artists are John Garcia, John Bergin, Matthew Guest, Omaha Perez, and Dean Rohrer; writers include Jerry Prosser, Poppy Z. Brite, Neal Barrett, Jr., Bill Crider, and Chet Williamson. The interior art is black-and-white (except for the adaptation of "The Masque of the Red Death") and comes in a huge variety of styles.

For the type of book it is, there is surprisingly little depiction of gore; more often, the stories suggest gore, or just don't get very gory when given the opportunity to do so. Sample plotlines: "Gorilla Gunslinger" is chased through the Old West by clowns and anti-evolutionists; the nerd Franklin obtains a can of Whup-Ass to get revenge on those he hates most; a blind woman and her rather odd and violent protector go "Trolling" for idiots who attempt to rob or molest the woman; and in an alternate postwar America, the Nazi governor of San Antonio takes advantage of an unexpected snowfall to become a less-than-child-friendly "Santa Klaus."

This is an excellent anthology with a great deal to recommend it. Besides the terrific variety of art, most of the stories are well told and worth reading. There are a couple of clunkers, such as the Charles de Lint story, which spends way, way too much time musing on the nature of reality with nothing else happening. (Heck, that wouldn't even make a good normal short story, much less a good graphic one.) Also, adapting the hoary old "Masque of the Red Death" isn't the most imaginative thing one can do. Far more interesting is the adaptation of Ambrose Bierce's "Oil of Dog," which is less well known (at least I've never read it) and hence more satisfying to find in the book. I did not care for the art in the Michael Moorcock adaptation at all; I've seen Elric done much, much better elsewhere, both in character depiction and in choice of story elements to depict. But these are minor quibbles.

Another thing I like about Weird Business is that every story is introduced with a biography of its creators, so we get a sense of how experienced these people are and where else they have published. Finally, the cover (which is unfortunately too small and blurry in the graphic above to see the details) is just gorgeous.

This enjoyable and well-produced book, well-reviewed in its time and nominated for several awards, would make an excellent addition to horror collections for both adults and teens.


Copyright 2000, D. Aviva Rothschild


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