Doug Goodman

Texas Horror Writer. Cadaver Dog Handler.

Doug's Blog

How To Pronounce My Hometown's Name: Lubbock

Posted by douggoodman on July 6, 2016 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On the show Preacher, a character pronounced my hometown of Lubbock as "Low-bick." For those who would like help with the pronunciation, I recommend two authentic pronunciations: "lu-buck" (with the same "U" rhyming with "uhhh..." for both syllables) Or Lu-bick, but the second syllable's vowel (which sounds like the "i" in "brick" is barely heard. Either way you choose to pronounce the second syllable, lean on the first syllable like you are having a hard time thinking about the name. Luhhh-buck, or Luu-bick. If you are still having a hard time, think "Lubbock or Leave It" Cause the vowels in Lubbock sound like you are saying "Love It."

Comicpalooza Explorations of Horror

Posted by douggoodman on June 19, 2016 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I was on a panel for "Explorations in Horror" at Comicpalooza on Friday. The panel came up with some great suggestions for horror reads, so I wanted to share them. I stayed away from the mainstream books and authors who everybody probably knows (i.e., Stephen King, Lovecraft, Hill, Poe, etc.)


Here are some that came out of the panel discussion:

Shane McKenzie

Aikman's Heirs (anthology)

The Doll Collection (anthology)

Thomas Ligotti

Laird Barron (X's for Eyes)

A Collapse of Horses (Brian Everson)

The Ballad of Black Tom (Victor LaValle)

The Caretaker of Lorne Field (Dave Zelsterman)

The Drowning Girl (Caitlin Kiernan)


I read X's For Eyes recently and can recommend it. Good pulpy Lovecraftian weirdness. 


Enjoy your reading...

I Have A Theory That Batman is Bruce Wayne's Alter

Posted by douggoodman on January 22, 2016 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I have a theory that Batman is Bruce Wayne's alter. The theory goes that Bruce Wayne suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder from his parent's deaths. The alternative personality "Batman" was created to protect Bruce from this traumatic memory. To that end, the alter wages a vigilante war on Gotham's crime problem. 


So far I think most of you are with me. I also think some of you might want to say "Duh? So?" So let me go into a little more detail. First, an introduction to DID. I've been doing research on it for my upcoming book, Shark-Toothed Grin, which is in part about DID. This is where I'm getting my information. Please feel free to take with a grain of salt or comment below if your research/experience is different.


Dissociative Identity Disorder is the current model of what most people refer to as multiple personality disorder, or split personalities. Like so many other disorders, there are a lot of shades to DID. But for the purposes of this theory, a person with DID has two or more personalities. There are the normal operating personalities, and there are the alternative personalities created to deal with a traumatic memory. In this case, Bruce Wayne is the normal operating personality, the personality most people associate with. Then there is the Batman, the Dark Knight, who is Bruce Wayne's alter. The two personalities work together to help Bruce Wayne deal with the tragic loss of his parents. Batman helps cope with memories. He sweeps in and takes over and fixes things for Bruce Wayne. The two alters are cognizant of each other's existence. 


A lot about how the character works can be explained using DID. Batman is studious and angry. Bruce is calm and cool. If there is a problem, the Batman alter takes over, even if Bruce Wayne has not changed his wardrobe. The alter is there and in charge and uses his vast knowledge and superior will to fix the problem and solve the crime. Once the problem has been resolved, Batman goes away and Bruce Wayne comes back.


My research about DID mentions co-morbidity as a symptom. This means that DID is usually not the only disorder going on. There are usually other disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, etc. that are also existent in the person suffering from DID. This makes DID difficult to diagnose. But for the purposes of this theory, it also may explain some of the villains he approaches. Many of his villains can be interpreted as pyschological disorders from mania (Joker) to obsessive personalities such as the Mad Hatter. One of the most stereotypical portrayals of DID is Harvey Dent/Two-Face. I find it interesting that Harvey Dent is usually portrayed as a one-time best friend to Bruce Wayne. Is it possible that Bruce Wayne is projecting his own psychological disorders onto the villains he faces? He is obsessive and manic. Perhaps what we see as an outrageous villain is merely Bruce Wayne trying to deal with mental health issues born of his family's tragedy.


Think about it. What if the villains are no more than Bruce Wayne hallucinating or hearing voices? These are Schneiderian sypmtoms, which will appear in people suffering from DID.


Now let me spin this out further: What if all the villains are his alters? Have you ever noticed that Batman does not kill people (intentionally)? He may leave them for dead, but he always tries to bring these villains to justice. He can't kill them because they are him. It would be like tearing off your own arm. If you follow the DID theory further, you may interpret the villains not as just people he is projecting his own psychoses on, but actual alternative personalities. In that way, there is Penguin, and a Joker, and yes, even a Catwoman inside his mind. Bringing them to justice may be his way of trying to integrate these alternative personalities into his world. Justice is treatment. Alters can be evil, they be violent, they can even change gender. So how much of the Rogues Gallery is all in Batman's head? 


When they are brought to justice, they are taken to Arkham Asylum. The more I am thinking about it, the more I'm thinking there is only one person in Arkham Asylum, and his name is Bruce Wayne. Have you ever looked at images of Arkham Asylum? Big, gothic building with lots of rooms, right? In the Batman universe, there is another large, gothic building with lots of rooms. It is called Wayne Manor. Is there a chance that Wayne Manor and Arkham Asylum are the same place?


I don't know that DID explains every detail about Bruce Wayne's world. But it would be very ineresting (and I would love to write) a version of Batman that is about a man who created an alter to deal with the tragic loss of his parents, but for whom more alters were created, and now he is trying to pull them all together to come to terms with his psychological disorder. What do you think?

Conan on Gender Equality in Comics

Posted by douggoodman on July 14, 2015 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

This made me laugh...


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Why I Think Wolverine Should Be On Television

Posted by douggoodman on April 18, 2015 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Wolverine has been pretty good in the X-men movies and iffy when it comes to his own movies.  The casting is great.  I think Hugh Jackman is fantastic, and he only seems to get better and look more the part the older he gets.  But I think the character has been mishandled, and weirdly enough, I didn't realize it until I was watching Daredevil.


Daredevil, as a television show, has people wondering https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCYQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newsarama.com%2F24193-ten-marvel-characters-ready-for-reinvention-on-tv.html&ei=FdEyVe-XBJPfgwTJzIHYBQ&usg=AFQjCNHP1EAWwWyvNGhsBR6BNB8yDN_GLQ&sig2=N7oEteaF_B3hrGbYPAH85w&bvm=bv.91071109,d.eXY" target="_blank">who else would make a good television character.  Punisher, Spiderman, Ghost Rider, and many others have been proposed.  Me, I would argue that Wolverine works better in television than in cinema.  Think about it.  The Wolverine movies always seem to fall apart once the big set pieces and grandiose designs come into play.  Wolverine works best when he is tossing Sabretooth around a mountain, living off the land and tracking hunters, or fighting off ninjas in the middle of the street.  Once he is inserted into the big set pieces (see:  the ending of both Wolverine movies), it doesn't work.  A television format could embrace that aesthetic, reduce the number of massive set pieces and the overindulgence in CGi while cutting (claws extended, of course) to the heart of the character.


In a weird way, the lack of budget would help Wolverine.  Watching the fight scene from the second episode of Daredevil (which, I'm going to say, is completely badass), it only made me wonder how good would it be to allow a five or ten-minute mauling berserker rage of Wolverine's to happen on screen.  Wolverine's trademark berserker rage has only come up occasionally on film.  X-Men: United allowed it, but for only about a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zVVACpSevA" target="_blank">minute.  Can you imagine a studio allowing Wolverine to pound away at bad guys for five minutes of a film?  The answer would be, "sure, but we gotta throw some CGI in there.  Can we make it on top of a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUAywpTbI9g" target="_blank">speeding bullet train?"  And going back to Wolverine's berserk-mode in X-Men: United, it isn't very bloody.  I'm not saying violence for violence's sake here, but the character leans toward a darker, bloodier version than can be provided in PG-13.  For an example of what I'm talking about, check out the https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPYnzm_EME4" target="_blank">intro from the X-Men Origins video game.


Circling back to Daredevil, the show is grounded in its street fighting. There is a lot of singular action. Daredevil is fighting Wilson Fisk and his corrupt network. He isn't fighting off nuclear armaggedon the way Wolverine always seems to be involved. All of mutantkind isn't at risk. For Daredevil, it is one part of New York City, Hell's Kitchen. I think Wolverine as a character would prosper from this focus.


I don't fault Fox for its treatment of Wolverine.  They were pioneering what other studios would build upon.  Comic book movies in 2000 were not the sure thing they are today.  But fifteen years later, there are better ways to handle the Wolverine brand/franchise.  I could see Wolverine on Netflix in a kind of Kung  Fu: The Legend Continues.  Major story arcs could be set in Canada and follow his wandering.  Even better, we could finally see his intriguing mentoring relationships explored.  (Wolverine has spent many years acting as a mentor to young women like Kitty Pryde and Jubilee.  There is a taste of this relationship in the movies, where Wolverine is acting like the reluctant father figure to Rogue.) 


Recently, Hugh Jackman has suggested that the next Wolverine movie will be his last.  That's too bad.  I think he is a better Wolverine now than he was when he originated the role in 2001.  But if Hugh Jackman really is putting away the claws, then bringing the character to television may not only be a good thing, it may be the best thing.

Bluebonnet Poop

Posted by douggoodman on April 11, 2015 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (1)

Like so many fellow Texans, my family took a day trip to Central Texas to see the bluebonnets.  As we were driving down a state highway, I saw a Mac truck on top of a hill with a bed of bluebonnets beneath it.  There was nothing special about the truck (white, no trailer, had a hood and a sleeper).  But put that truck in a bed of bluebonnets, and it looked ridiculously good.  Now, I've seen lots of junk thrown into beds of bluebonnets (think: old tractor parts and even tire wells), and they always look better with bluebonnets.  


So I decided to give it a try.  I wondered, if I took the freakiest thing I own, would it look better with bluebonnets?  What do you think?



Just a fake skull in some bluebonnets.  Here is another version.  You know it's artistic becuase the skull is blurry:




This gives me a definite "Pretty Deadly" vibe.  I keep thinking of the little animal skeletons in the grass talking to each other about the story of Pretty Deadly.


And yes, I should definitely try this with the fake leg.  


So what do you think?  Do bluebonnets make it better or worse, and should I just throw my garbage out into the bluebonnets to see if it looks better in bluebonnets?

Five Marvel and Two Image Covers That Did Better Than Spider-Woman's Black-Barred Butt Cover

Posted by douggoodman on November 19, 2014 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Thursday is no longer Throwback Thursday. It is Butt Day. You've never heard of Butt Day before? Well, let me educate you:



"Oh," you say. "That butt." Yep, it's variant-cover butt time. To make things better, Marvel is black-barring her butt. That's hilarious.


HOWEVER (you see what I avoided doing there?), I wanted to take the time to highlight a five Marvel covers and two Image covers that are going in the right direction. These will be comic covers prominently displaying female characters where the cover doesn't seem solicitous and the butt isn't black-barred by the title. Let's call it "Covers Without Black Bars." Or maybe just steps in the right direction.


See, comics, if you haven't heard, have a long history of being pretty sexist. Just read up on Wonder Woman and "refrigerator girls." It's a pretty bad history, and when you have a blighted history like that, it echoes into everything you do, even now. Marvel took a lot of flack for Black Widow's butt-shots in all the promotional materials for The Avengers after the movie came out. You can compare it to the ESA engineer who wore to a television interview a tacky shirt covered in scantily clad women. It is clearly tactless, something that takes away from the grandness of the work his team did (landing on a comet!). It becomes a focus point at least in part because of a history of unacceptance of women in aerospace.


I like to stay positive, though. So for that shirt, I show you Sally Rides. And for the Spider Woman variant cover, I show you some of the cool depictions of women on comic book covers form over the last two years. First, the two Image covers I like.


The front cover of Lazarus is a good place to start. This cover is all about business, and the comic is all about a family business revolving around supersoldiers, or Lazaruses (Lazari?), who were created by each of the world's governing families. This is a great head shot, which is one of the go-to approaches for women's comics. Nothing avoid gratuitousness like a headshot. I think it is a great profile, and I love the blue tones. There is a fierceness about this cover, which translates into the character and the comics.



The front cover of Saga shows the characters Gwendolyn (the woman with the horns) and Hazel standing in a field of alien wheat. Take note of Gwendolyn, in particular. Note that while she it turned to one side, and her hand is on her hip, you are not being served a slice of her butt pie. I think everything is well-translated in this cover without the need to stick her butt in our face.

 

On a side note, Saga is one of the coolest things in print right now. It is written for an adult audience and has been described as Star Wars meets Romeo and Juliett, but that still doesn't seem to come close. The writing, by Brian K. Vaughn, is legendary, and the artwork of Fiona Staples is unbelievably good. She brings life to some very odd characters and their even odder surroundings without losing her audience.



I dont' care what you think of Agent Carter or Black Widow or Melinda May, Agent Prescot (aka, Pres-bot) from Deadpool is the coolest female S.H.I.E.L.D agent. Through an unfortunate twist of events, her mind has been placed inside a robot. In this comic, which is part of one of the best Deadpool stories I have read, Agent Prescot is helping Deadpool get in touch with his long lost daughter. She even gets to thwart some bad guys by throwing herself out of a bathtub. A bathtub! But if you think seriously about what is going on here, we are getting a cover of an atypical female character. Let's face it, she's a plus-sized woman. Month-to-month, you don't see plus-sized women on the front covers of magazines, much less comic books, so I commend Marvel for the cover. See - I'm not just bashing Marvel. There's a lot of praise going around for Marvel and female characters.



Speaking of great Marvel characters, check out Ms. Marvel. Ms. Kamala Khan. Why aren't you reading this? It's like The House on Mango Street as a superhero story about a muslim woman. This is a first, I believe, for Marvel, using a muslim as a superhero. This is seriously one of the best comics written today. It reminds me of Spiderman comics back when Peter Parker was a struggling high school student. Ms. Marvel is a story full of humor about a young girl growing up as a muslim in New Jersey. She writes fan fiction by night, and goes to high school by day. And then she gets tapped with certain embiggening powers. And man, if your superpower is embiggening, then you are okay in my book.

And the cover? Fashionable, covered, with the bold iconic lightning bolt on the chest a la Superman or Batman. It's a classic.




What makes She-Hulk such a cool story is that she is a lawyer first and a superhero second. She has brain and brawn (and fashion-sense if the covers are to be believed). I don't want to compare this title to a David E. Kelley television show because there is a whole lot of baggage when I say that, but these aren't exactly Law & Order gritty stories, either. They are offbeat law mysteries involving superheroes. And the covers represent it well.

 

I could think of a million other ways they could depict Jennifer Walters, but Kevin Wada likes to show private moments such as this one. The young lawyer in transition to her work gear, hose splitting because, well, dude! she's She-Hulk, which is silhouetted in the background. Do you see what they're doing there with the transformative power? Transforms into a lawyer, transforms into a hulk?



Can you get more bad ass than this cover? Look, there's a lot of gender-bending of superheroes, especially in cosplaying and such, so it makes sense that Marvel made this move. What is even cooler is that this woman is somebody who is worthy of Mjolnir. Few are, regardless of gender. And take a look at that cover! Does it not have shield maiden written all over it? This could have been Lagertha from Vikings. This cover seems to feed into the zeitgeif of today, where just weeks ago some recent and controversial evidence came out supporting the belief that women were more common warriors for Vikings than previously thought.

Again, this cover could have been bad. She could have been drawn more like Angela from Guardians of the Galaxy, but instead, the focus is on the character and not the gratuitous sexuality.

Last one.



This cover is terrific. (My apologies for the glare. I'm not always a good photograher.) There is a lot of power in these women and in this cover. This is where the focus should be, not on their sexuality, though I think an argument could be made that this is a cover full of sexuality. Seriously, think back to how these characters were drawn in the 90s. Two words: swimsuit calendars. Man, is this a different mindset.


So there you go. Five Marvel covers and two Image covers that are making positive steps. They are covers that can be confident and humorous and powerful and familial and vengeful and full of badassery without needing to be gratuitous or requiring a title to black-bar the heroine's butt. Hopefully we will see more like these in the future.

In Support of a Superior Spiderman

Posted by douggoodman on February 11, 2013 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Friends, bloggers, tweeterers,

 

I have come to praise Spiderman, not to bury him.  Err...Spoiler-Alert, BTW, on pretty much everything about Amazing Spiderman and Superior Spiderman comic books, so you know - just so it's said.  If you don't want to know more about them, stop reading!

 

The Amazing Spiderman ran its course in December 2012, ending with the apparent death (because in comic books, when can you call it anything but apparent) of Spiderman.  Where it gets weird is that Doctor Octopus did a brain-swap on Spiderman to become Peter Parker, while poor Peter was stuck in the body of the dying supervillain, and subsequently died.

 

This has a lot of comic book readers in an uproar. 

 

I am not interested in trying to defend the writers for what they did.  Let me be clear about that.  To end a 50-year old franchise with the main hero losing in such a big way is understandably painful and comes out wrong.  I get that, and I don't want to try to convince anyone that what they did was right or good.  It's more like writer's choice, and that's the risk in picking up any piece of fiction.  But I am digressing.  What I really want to talk about is singing the praises of the new Spiderman title, Superior Spiderman.

 

First, I gotta back up.  Back in the 90s, I got into collecting comics.  Image titles were my thing, and I really wasn't into Spiderman.  No particular reason why - I just wasn't.  Never have been.  I enjoy reading about the wall crawler, and I really liked the first two Sam Raimi films, but that was about it for me.

 

On the suggestion of a friend, this past week I picked up issue #700 of Amazing (it's final issue) as well as the first 3 issues of Superior Spiderman, which is the line replacing Amazing.

 

I really like it.

 

Here's five reasons why I like what they are doing with Spiderman and why I think there is hope for the future:

 

1.  Doc Oc as Spiderman gives us new insights into Spiderman's humanity. 

 

Quick:  what's one of the best ways to learn a whole new side of a character?  Switch the viewpoint from hero to the villain.  (Usually not done with villain in hero's body.)  In book 1, Doc Oc already has several moments of "Good God, how did Spiderman put up with this?" 

 

He gets into the middle of a fight with a "new" Sinister Six, and half-way through the fight, he bugs out because wow - those fists hitting him hurt.  If Doc Oc really is dedicated to being Spiderman, he has got to learn to take the blows and not run from a fight.

 

One of Doc Oc's biggest revelations is that Spiderman was pulling his punches.  Pretty neat, huh?  The kid was out to stop villains, not necesarily trying to hurt him.  Of course, this was all part of Spiderman being all friendly and neighborhood, but it is nice seeing this expressed in a different way.  Superior Spiderman, however, is not going to have any of this pulling punches business.  He's already severed a jaw in the penultimate Amazing issue.  It is going to be interesting seeing how Doc Oc comes to terms with pulling punches.

 

2.  Superior Spiderman improves how to be Spiderman. 

 

Even Ghost Parker (see, already that "apparently dead" thing is being questioned) has to agree, Doc Oc brings some good ideas to the table.  Being a former mad scientist, he builds some spiderbots to hang around NYC and let him know when there is trouble, thus giving him more time to spend trying to woo MJ, which is some of the funniest stuff in this comic book.  (More on that later.)  Other improvements include listening in on the Sinister Six to learn about their plans "for strategic reasons" and improving the eyes in the costume (which is the only major change to the costume I am seeing.)

 

Superior Spiderman is also able to do a few things Peter never seemed able to do, such as get in good with the NYPD.  He very quickly is able to get access to their labs and gets the hull of one of his new enemies, The Living Brain, which is essentially a 1960s robot hull that Doc Oc converts into his lab assistant.  He also makes good with the press, using his intel from spying on the Sinister Six to set up a trap for them and inviting the press to watch.  Doc Oc is kind of like that guy in the commercial who has done everything from running a marathon to learning to play a guitar to releasing a new auto-tuned record while you were sleeping. 

 

3.  Superior Spiderman shows a different slice of villainy.

 

So far, the two villains he has fought are the Sinister Six and the Vulture.  The Sinister Six he disposes of quickly, considering them trite, which, yeah, let's be honest - they are pretty trite.  Doc Oc devises a few gadgets and takes them down.  He does learn the meaning of getting hit and develops a whole new appreciation for the term "proportionate speed of a spider," another little thing Doc Oc does to show us just how powerful Spiderman can be.  But it's the story arc with Vulture that really sheds new light onto the villains.

 

See, Doc Oc and Vulture used to be in the Sinister Six together, so Superior Spiderman "gets" him.  He understands his motivations, or at least, he thinks he does.  He remembers Vulture as being an old man of high intelligence who really is in it for the money.  So he tries to rationalize with him - stop doing this, and I will get you the offshore accounts.  You can have the money.  There's no reason to continue the criminal life.

 

But then something happens.  In a fight with Vulture's henchmen, who seem to be little people in bird costumes (I know!), he tosses one against a wall.  The henchman's helmet falls off, and Superior Spiderman learns that the henchman is just a kid.  This brings us to a new revelation about a villain - Doc Oc.  Doc Oc has a memory of being slapped around by his own father, which drives him to rage.  "Why did you make me hit a child?"

This is good stuff and gives me hope for the future of the series.  You can look at it as a re-reinvention of the standard "becoming a superhero" arch and by extension, as a cog in the "great power/responsibility" theme that flows through the comic books.

 

4.  Great inner dialogue of a former mad scientist.

 

"Lunch with the Watson Woman.  Parker was a FOOL for keeping such a ravishing creature at a distance.  A mistake I shall now rectify.  Now, to begin my opening gambit."  Gotta love that.  And his first words to MJ on their date?  "Everything's going according to plan."  His explanation for love lost between them?  "It's a recursive loop.  An equation that can never be solved."  Aw, and where is Dr. Sheldon Cooper when you need sweet talk like that?

 

5.  The interactions between Ghost Parker and Doc Oc Spiderman are fun.

 

So Peter Parker is haunting Doctor Octopus.  He cannot speak to him directly, but he is able to affect him, such as keeping him from killing some of the first bad guys he fights against.  Unfortunately, this means Peter has to tag along with Doc Oc and listen to his horrible inner monologue and schemes, such as how to woo MJ.  And when Superior Spiderman eventually concludes that he cannot get the girl, he suddenly remembers that he doen't have to.  He has all of Peter Parker's memories of MJ, which satisfies him waaaay too much and shows that supervillains just don't get out.  There is a lot of "ick" factor for ghost-Peter at this point, and a lot of comedy is spent on this story arch. 

 

Ghost Parker and Doc Oc reminds me of Dan Simmons' Black Hills novel, where a young Sioux named Paha Sapa absorbs the spirit of General Custer.  The two have some interesting back-and-forth and share a lot of ideas (as well as point/counterpoint views).  While Ghost Parker cannot yet speak directly with Doc Oc, they do interact, and it is fun and refreshing to see the haunted superhero who is not necessarily haunted by his own bad past (see:  Batman).

 

So back to the major theme of Spiderman.  The words that have been cited over and over again:  "great" and "power" and "responsibility."  They are so cliche that the latest movie would rather have Uncle Ben mumble about everything under the sun in his lectures than use those three words.  But Superior puts a new spin on it.  In the original Spiderman, Peter Parker famously does not stop the criminal and learns the consequences of not taking action.  What makes Superior so intriguing is that  now Spiderman is the criminal.  Doc Oc has got to come o terms with this theme and find his place as a new superhero.  I am looking forward to seeing how this all ends...

My High School Teaching Career

Posted by douggoodman on February 8, 2012 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Not for the first time, last night I got really jealous of my daughter because of the kinds of electives she can choose.  She will be going into high school next year, so Mrs. Badass and I were reviewing my daughter's coursework.  We also started looking at high school classes in general.  Some of the electives she can choose to take included a half-semester study of Shakespeare or Horror or Science Fiction/Fantasy Literature.  Makes you want to go back to high school, doesn't it?  Horror Lit has to be the coolest class at Clear Falls High School, hands down.  There is no way it can't be.  Right from the point where you enter the classroom, it will be cooler because the Horror Lit teacher will have the best classroom decorations.  Can you imagine?  Instead of that wavey border that seems to be en mode with teachers everywhere, the Horror Lit teacher uses a border with bloody blades and axes and every weapon ever used in a Stephen King book.  Instead of busts of Shakespeare, the Horror Lit teacher could just have fake heads hanging from the ceiling.  And instead of posters inspiring kids to read or stay off drugs, the Horror Lit teach (cause he's too cool to be a teacher) would have posters of Freddy and Jason.  (Okay, not technically literature, but still horror.)  The possibilities are endless!

 

Maybe your high school sucked and you didn't get to take interesting classes.  I went to Lubbock High School, the coolest high school on the planet because on Fridays you got to take cool classes like Star Trek movies and Meditation.  I can personally attest to Star Trek Movies as being much more interesting than Algebra I or US Government.  A class like Horror Lit would fit right in at LHS (obviously it would have to be a full-time classroom and not just for Fridays). 

 

This all got me thinking, though.  Maybe it's time to be a teacher.  I am generally against it, but if I was in charge of Horror Lit, nobody would ever want to take another class.  You would begin with Poe (duh!) and read The Pit and the Pendulum, The Casque of Amontillado, and The Murders of the Rue Morgue.  Dracula (double-duh!).  How you teach a Horror Lit class and not include Lovecraft is beyond me.  The Dunwich Horror, The Thing on the Doorstep, and The Mountains of Madness.  Richard Mattheson and I am Legend.  Probably the biggest decision is which Stephen King book to read.  I know that critically it is a no-brainer.  You read The Stand.  But I think in recent years, The Shining is starting to become more appreciated for its deconstruction of a modern family and for being the ultimate "haunted house" ghost story despite being located in a hotel).  Of course, I have always been partial to Carrie, and it might fit in better with the rest of the collection.

 

Think of how you can present the texts to students.  You can talk about the roles of women in Horror from Nina Harker in Dracula to Ruth in I am Legend to Carrie or Wendy Torrance in The Shining.  Another thing that would be cool to talk about is narrative.  Carrie, Lovecraft, and Bram Stoker's Dracula all use the same kind of journalistic narrative.  You can even compare that to modern horror cinema with its shaky cams and "found footage" movement.  Other possble topics are how tension is built, or the use of "gore," which is more of a late-twentieth century thing.

 

I can already hear a high school kid in the back room complaining that this course has no zombies.  Come to the front, son, and listen to the teach.  There is only so much schedule in a half-semester class.  I already have three books on the list (although I am Legend and Carrie are short books).  I don't have room for zombie books.  But I am the coolest teacher ever, so I think I have a solution.  I am going to steal something from my old World Lit teacher, who made everybody in the class at one point in the semester give an oral presentation on some topic.  (Mine was Metallica, which I could talk about for at least 2-3 hours.)  For the Horror Lit class, the only stipulation would be that it has to be related to horror.  So the student who wants to disect World War Z or the Walking Dead?  Be my guest.  See, I'm the coolest teacher in the world, homie!  Four shizzles out of five.

 

Okay, so now that I have described the absolute coolest class in the world, my question to you is - how would you teach a Horror Lit class and what would you assign for the reading list?  Or what class would you teach instead?

Grey Days, Bright Books?

Posted by douggoodman on February 1, 2012 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The days have been mostly wet and grey and dreary for the past couple of days, the kind of weather for book-reading.  My recent reads have had that same kind of dreary grey feel to them.

 

Princess of Mars -- Probably the brightest of the bunch, but like Edgar Rice Burroughs' other famous book, Tarzan of the Apes, it has a depressing end.  (I assume that like most of the Tarzan movies, teh ending will be changed in the upcoming John Carter movie.)  Thankfully, Burroughs wrote more books.

 

Stargazing Dog -- (Spoiler alert!) This graphic novel by Takashi Murakami, is kind of like a Charlie Brown special, if after everything Charlie Brown went through, at the end of the special, he and Snoopy died.  It is a beautiful story, but also kind of a downer.

 

Black Hills -- One of Dan Simmons' more recent books, and one of my favorites.  Unfortunately, the main character feels responsible for the death of most of the people around him and feels responsible for the death of his people, so also a bit of a downer.  The dialogues between Papa Saha and the ghost of Custer are some of the most memorable scenes of the book, and I wish there was more with the two of them in it.   For a horse of a different flavor, I recommend Custer's Brother's Horse, by Edwin Shrake.

 

So, my question to you:  do you know of any uplifting, feel-good books?  These are all very good books, and I am glad to have read them, but I am ready for something a little brighter right now.  Do you know of one?  Or maybe just a funny, clever book?  My Kindle is waiting.  (In the meantime, I am reading the Burroughs follow-up, Gods of Mars.)