NEXT TESTAMENT: The Gospel, According To Mark Alan Miller

 Mark Alan Miller is a busy guy. On top of his “day job” as Vice-President of Clive Barker’s Seraphim Inc., Miller was the driving force behind the long-awaited “director’s cut” restoration of Barker’s 1990 cult classic, NIGHTBREED. But aside from overseeing the day-to-day operations of The House That Barker Built, Miller’s been flexing his own creative muscles.

And it’s a lot of flexing, too.

Starting off in somewhat familiar territory with BOOM! Studios HELLRAISER comics, Miller went on to collaborate with Barker on NEXT TESTAMENT, a twelve-issue series that introduces Mr. Wick, the true Old Testament God who’s not pleased with what he sees on his return… and sets about destroying it all.

Following that, Miller teamed up with Dark Horse and Joe R. Lansdale for THE STEAM MAN, a deliriously inventive and brutal mash-up of Steampunk & vintage pulp sci-fi/horror set in the Wild West based on Lansdale’s short story,“The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down: A Dime Novel.”.

Having now staked his claim in comics, Miller has moved into full-length prose with the upcoming release of the novelization of NEXT TESTAMENT (courtesy of Earthling Publications) and while it may seem odd to adapt a comic into novel form, it’s all part of the plan. But I’ll let Miller himself explain that, as well as what’s coming around the bend.
miller_next_testament-174x268What were the first seedlings of the story for NEXT TESTAMENT?
It was all the stuff that Clive and I initially bonded over when we first started getting to know each other. We are both incredibly inspired by the Bible, and what people do in its name. We’re also drawn to metaphors, and telling stories that exercise certain portions of our psyches. This was very much an exorcism.
The story first appeared as a mini-series for Boom! Studios. What prompted the upgrade to prose-based novelization, or was that always the endgame in the back of your mind?
Funny enough, the original idea was to do it as a novel. Clive and I had created Wick, and devised this story that really did it for both of us, and I was going to write it all out, and Clive was going to illustrate it. Then we had a conversation with Boom! after the success of the Hellraiser comic, and they were looking for something new. We immediately though of Next Testament, because it began with the visuals, so it just made sense. To their eternal credit, Boom! loved it, and just let us get to work. It was easily one of the greatest professional experiences of my career.
Tell us a bit about Barker’s involvement and inspiration in this project.
When we initially came up with the story together, Clive was doing an experiment with paints. He’d already painted about 3,000 canvases, all standing close to 4 feet tall (and who hasn’t really?) so he wanted to try something new, and he began turning the human form into a canvas, letting the paintbrush lead him. I volunteered to be one of the experiments. Who wouldn’t want to be an original Clive Barker monster?! So, hell yeah, I jumped at the chance. And when Clive was done, we both stepped back, and looked at what had emerged, and it was Wick, in the flesh. This guy standing in the mirror looked wicked, and mischievous, and his colors felt like they had their roots in something ancient that tapped into life itself. The story we came up with on the spot was essentially the skeleton of Next Testament. This new creature was God, he’d been dormant for a long time, and he woke up and saw the world, he wasn’t happy.
Has there been any consideration in adapting the work to film or television? And which would be your preferred choice?
Oh absolutely. There’s lots of talk about it. Personally, I’d love to see it as an animated series. I think you can get away with a lot more in that format. That being said, I won’t close the door to any incarnation this story wants to be. I’ve lived with it for a long time. It feels very personal. So I’ll be with it wherever it wants to go.
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As Vice-President of Seraphim, much of your time is overseeing the Barker empire. How do you juggle the day-to-day of running a multimedia undertaking like that with personal creative goals? Is there an overlap between the two?
That is correct. I’m on the front lines, fighting the Barker war every day. The day to day is certainly a challenge, but it’s one that I wake up excited to take on every day. The library is so vast, and  has been spread throughout the world, and throughout the decades. There’s always a line in the sand to follow, and always someone fascinating to talk about this very dark, very beautiful world. My title is Vice President of the company, but I identify as a writer and a producer – as a creative. So I’d definitely say there’s overlap. I love creating worlds with Clive. And I also love protecting his worlds, and exposing them to new audiences and in new ways. Sometimes I get to do both at the same time, and a guy can’t ask for a much greater gift than that.
 On top of TESTAMENT, you also collaborated with Joe R. Lansdale on Dark Horse’s THE STEAM MAN. What was it like working with the prolific author?
4872369-01It was another dream come true! Joe is part of my holy trinity of great authors. It’s Clive, Joe, and James Ellroy. Of course there are countless other authors I love and admire and even idolize, but more than anyone else,  those three guys have blown the doors off my brain. Working with Joe was great, because I got to stretch different muscles when writing with his voice in mind. And it was a fun place to visit!
We’re talking about doing a few other things. In fact, I adapted a short story of his called The Dump for the anthology books that American Gothic Press did in honor of Forest Ackerman’s 100th birthday. It’s called Tales from the Ackermansion and my story follows John Carpenter’s. So…again…not a bad gig.
Now that TESTAMENT is on its way, what’s next – for you and for Seraphim?

Oh lots. Always lots. The conversations we’re having are on another level. With any luck, there will be some incredible Barker television coming your way in the coming months. We’re also diving deeper into self-publishing. We’ve got The Thief Of Always anniversary edition that Christian Francis and Vicky Barker produced together which will be sold exclusively on our web store. I’ve held it in my hand. It’s amazing. And you can also keep your eyes peeled for a new Hellraiser anthology comic, also for sale through our web store – www.realclivebarker.com. It’s a love letter to EC comics and the old Epic Hellraiser comics as well. It’s a no holds barred anthology where bad things happen…and sometimes they even happen to good people. If all goes according to plan, it should get under your skin quite nicely and stay there.

NEXT TESTAMENT is slated for publication later this year by Earthling Publications.
The HELLRAISER anthology is also scheduled for release this spring through Seraphim Ink and will be available exclusively at The Official Clive Barker Store.

The Exorcism of 2016 (aka #MMXVIMustDie!)

It’s been said that to expunge an abstract yet malicious force, one must give it solidity.

A name. A face. Something solid to drive the stake through and end it, right and proper.

Such is the case with 2016, a year that’s best described as “a flaming clown car of misery”. We’ve spent a good chunk of the last 365 days trying to anthropomorphize this particular chronological cycle as some kind of metaphysical horror-movie slasher. Well, we’re nearing the end credits, folks, so before it gets one last swing in today, I’ve been working on a solution.

See, I’ve given 2016 a physical form, and a name to bind it to this plane…and we’re going to kill this motherfucker before he gets a chance to sabotage 2017 before it even starts.

This is Emmex Vei. The year, made tangible. And you’re going to help me kick him square in the balls and out the door.

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Here’s the gist:

Having channeled all the hate, fear and tragedy of the past year into this well-dressed and infinitely vicious piece of shit and branding his real name on his head , I came up with the follow-up plan to thus destroy him. But Emmex is a strong and persistent malignancy, so it’s going to take more than I’ve got here.

Here’s where you come in.

I need you to print this effigy of pen/ink/Photoshop and defile/destroy it how you see fit. Light it on fire. Tear it to shreds. Grab a handful of crayons and cover him in crudely drawn penises. Whatever it takes to diminish and weaken him before you strike the final blow.

At the very least, it’ll be cathartic. There isn’t a person I know who hasn’t had an especially rough time of it this year, and I’m no exception. There will be no resurrections, no sequels, no carry-over into the new year. If we’re going to get the fresh start and the tiniest glimmer of hope… Emmex Vei/MMXVI/2016 MUST FUCKING DIE!

And maybe, just maybe, we’ve got a fighting chance starting tomorrow.

Happy New Year, one and all. May the fates protect us.

#MMXVIMustDie

Share the hashtag. Put this fucking monster in the ground.

FIVE BY FIVE: BRITTNEY-JADE COLANGELO

img_0212At age 18, Brittney-Jade Colangelo hit the ground running with Day Of The Woman, a blog that took a look at “the feminine side of fear”. It was raw, honest and gave no shits about your finer sensitivities. Most importantly, she was a a strong and unapologetic feminist who spoke her mind freely and with razor-keen intelligence. The writing,  academic yet accessible. The world-view open and analytical, never one to take a side blindly.

And funny. She’s also damn funny.

Since that time, she has  retired DOTW  (which is still up and running in the archival sense) and has since been plying her trade online with Blumhouse, Playboy and – most recently – Birth Movies Death.

Did I mention she’s making movies? Right…she’s also making movies!
Sickening Pictures, the production company started by her and partner Zach Shildwachter, has already amassed an impressive list of horror shorts under their banner, with their most recent – LOVE IS DEAD – making the rounds on the festival circuit.
So I’m just going to come out and say it: she’s one of my heroes. She made me want to do this kind of writing on a more-regular basis. She was also, fittingly, my very first interview subject for Rue Morgue Magazine.

So, here we are again, full circle. Five Q’s. Five A’s.

1) A lot has changed in the blogosphere since you first hit the keyboards for Day Of The Woman. What do you think are the most notable changes found in the world of online critique and journalism?

Day of the Woman started in 2009 when I was only 18 years old. Saying that out loud feels incredibly foreign, and in the age of the internet, this is a lifetime away. That was pre-twitter, that was when Myspace was still hanging on by a thread. 2009 was around the time that the internet was really starting to EXPLODE and accessibility and connection speeds were at an all time high, so we were flooded with tons of sites and blogs popping up every day. Since then, most of the casual hobby sites have gone the way of the dodo. Sure, the market is still heavily saturated, but the ones that exist seem to hold themselves to a higher standard. People can’t get away with being assholes for the sake of being assholes anymore about a film, and because audiences have so many outlets to chose from, it forces writers to really step up their game and provide quality content or risk losing their readership. It’s still got a way to go, but I’m a much bigger fan of the “blogosphere” in 2016 than I was in 2009.

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2) Often, you have come under attack for your views, most notably by those with and ax to grind against feminism. Has this changed for you since moving into other “respectable brand” venues (Blumhouse, Playboy, etc.)

My views haven’t changed, if anything, they’ve just gotten stronger and more refined. Writing about feminism as an 18 year old is ridiculously more different than writing about feminism as a 26 year old. I stride to incorporate intersectionality in my analyses of cinema and writing for more “respectable” sites rather than just an independently run website has encouraged me to do as much research as possible into my articles. I’m speaking on a much bigger soapbox these days, and it’s vital that I keep myself as educated and up to date as possible. It’s not about my “personal opinions” anymore, it’s a means to start a conversation with the masses through an entertaining medium.

 

3) How do you think your worldview has changed from the time you started DOTW to now?

I’ve done a lot of maturing since starting Day of the Woman, but I think this has a lot to do with growing older. Unlike a lot of my comrades, my growth and development from a high school senior to a functioning adult member of society is documented and on display for the world to see. I’m embarrassed by some of the things I’ve said years ago, as I’m sure everyone can relate to, but I see it as a physical representation of how I’ve grown as a person. I like to think I’m a bit kinder but stronger in my stance. I’ve gained a lot of confidence since finishing college, and I hope that shows in my writing.

 

4) Tell me a bit about your recent forays into indie film productions. The highs, the lows? Is there money to be made, or is it a “love of the game” sort of deal?

I’d love to one day say that I’m making money on indie film productions, but for the time being, it’s a labor of love. I see it as the ultimate education experience. Who am I to rate and review a film without ever having endured the filmmaking process? I have gained a better perspective and respect for cinema now that I’ve dabbled in making it both in front of and behind the camera. I love the creative process of making a film, the only trouble is trying to get the finished product in front of an audience that has more media at their fingertips than any other time in history.

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Joanne Angel & Aaron Thompson in LOVE IS DEAD, produced by Sickening Pictures

5) With Day Of The Woman, you established yourself as one of the trailblazers for this kind of online journalism/critique. Where would you like to see things go, and what advice do you have for anyone looking to follow this path?

I’d love for click-bait to die in a fiery blaze and for audiences to crave well-researched and well thought out stories. I’m a fan of top 10 lists like everyone else, but instead of telling me what to watch, I’d love to know WHY to watch. For those looking to follow this path, write what you love and because you love it. Period.
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Britney-Jade Colangelo can be found…well, everywhere. Twitter. Blumhouse. Playboy. BirthMoviesDeath. And probably more venues before this hits online.

And be sure to follow her forays into film-making  on Facebook and Vimeo, while you’re at it.

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART SOMETHING-SOMETHING

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It’s been a long time since I’ve put fingers to keyboard here, so the three or four of you (and that is being incredibly generous) still here might be wondering ” Where have you been? What’s with all the silence?” The short answer: a lot. The longer one’s gonna require a paragraph, may be two. I promise to keep things less on the loquacious side and more “brevity is wit”-ish.

Let’s start off with terminal illness,shall we? Not mine, but close enough to home. Our family made the move to new accommodations at the end of December – bigger, more rooms and a kick-ass basement custom made for reclusive writer time –  to help my wife’s mother with her ongoing treatment for two different types of cancer. Both rare, both found in single-digit percentiles of the population. Then the cancer got ballsy, made its way into the marrow, bumped things up from “concerning” to “this is going to kill you”. There were weeks left, if we were lucky. After a debilitating first round of chemo, we started to see improvements. Vast, “holy shit” honest-to-goodness miracle kind of improvements. And that trend continued for months, till we got the good news a couple of weeks ago. Zero traces. The marrow is clean. It’s over, and we couldn’t be happier at this outcome. We’re a tight little unit, this family. And every day, I’m glad to be surrounded by such strong and beautiful people.

As a result of the above, though, some things had to be placed on the back-burner while we waged this little war. With the fires put out, and a new “normal” slowly becoming commonplace, it’s time to get back to business. To quote Abraham Van Helsing, ” There is work – wild work – to be done.” First, and certainly not least – I’m plying my trade under a new umbrella. The folks at Blumhouse.com (specifically Editor-In-Chief, Rebekah McKendry) have been kind enough (and trusting -the fools…) to allow me to spew words on their website. Before the above-mentioned crisis shook up the status quo, I managed to post a couple of articles.

Should you feel the need to read assorted verbiage on genre-related fooferaw,  take a gander at the menu:

A Kind of (Black) Magic: Another Look at Clive Barker’s LORD OF ILLUSIONS

DC’s ANIMAL MAN Volume II: The Best Horror Comic You May Have Missed

Marvel Movies Phase IV — Bring on the MONSTERS!

What Lies Beneath: Toronto and The Tunnel Monster of Cabbagetown

They’re a good gang to hook up with – fans with a love of the genre who aren’t afraid to fly the flag for their personal favourites – and they trust me enough to let me occupy space on their real estate. I’m still not convinced that my style of writing could be labelled “journalism”. But it’s fun. I get to talk about things I like, and share it among like-minded individuals. So I’m going to keep at that for a while.

I also quit smoking. 25 years on the hook, now ten months nicotine-free. And I don’t miss it. Not a bit. It’s hard, but not impossible. So maybe I’ll write about it here.

And we got a dog. Her name is Maggie. And she’s awesome.

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Aside from that? Who knows. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that life is short and no one is going to hand anything to you. So there will be more writing, here and elsewhere. I could get all wordy about my intentions, or just get down to the work.

In the end, the work is the only thing that matters. So time to get back to it.
It feels good to be back.

 

UNDER THE STATIC

Listen closely. A faint collection of sounds. Static, the crackle of electricity, the creaking of joints and pistons long motionless, slowly stirring. Moving.

It’s the sounds of life, or something like it, as this long-slumbering entity begins to stir, shaking off cobwebs and dust and lethargy with slow, deliberate movement.

It’s awakening. And it has things it wants to share.

Keep watching this space.