Saturday, March 25, 2006


Greetings, Boils & Ghouls. Strap on your boots, sharpen your hatchets, and take a stroll down memory lane as we remember the blood-chilling day...

As some of you will remember, Gore Shriek was a cult horror comic published in the late 80's by FantaCo, a small "mom & pop" type business that was based in Albany, New York. FantaCo also hosted Fantacon, a horror convention in Albany that blew away the over-crowded Fangoria events. It must've been '87 or '88 and I had talked my oldest brother Erik into driving up to Albany for my very first horror convention! He even rented us a room at the Econolodge so we could stay for the whole weekend (my brothers still rule!). Anyway, it was at Fantacon that I met most of the early Gore Shriek artists, and they were all some of the nicest and most unpretentious comic artists I've ever met. Bruce Spaulding Fuller was in top form. He was weird and introverted with a receding purple ponytail. Dressed in black he resembled Uncle Creepy's polite, educated offspring. And damn could he draw! He also signed the inside cover of my copy of Gore Shriek #1 (NERD!!!). That's the one with his now classic cover-drawing of the zombie tearing apart it's own face, which was later swiped by U.K. grind-gods Carcass for their demo. I also met Greg Cappullo that day, who had a table right beside Bruce. He had only recently broken into comics with Gore Shriek but he had some original Daredevil pages on display that were just awesome! Like Bruce, Greg was also very humble and soft spoken, which is a rare treat at those sweaty conventions where inflated egos run amok like ravenous Crites. This was Tom Savini's heyday and he was swaggering around like his character in Knightriders with a seemingly endless crowd of followers! His FX trading card series had just been released (also by FantaCo, if I remember correctly) and, yes, I got my set signed (NERD!!!). Anyway, back to Gore Shriek...

You must realize that in '88 our pimply protagonist, Dennis Dread, already had visions of drawing depraved gore long after most boys would discover girls and outgrow that stuff. And it was with such visions of grandeur that I brought with me to Fantacon several horrible cartoon drawings I had done recently of the likes of the Lost Boys, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger! I know, I know. Laugh, cruel reader! For these were truly HORRIBLE cartoons. Poorly planned and poorly executed. And not "cute" or "funny". Just dumb. Did I think I would be "discovered" by Gore Shriek and swept away to draw monsters by the full moon with Berni Wrightson and Bruce Spaulding Fuller? I don't remember. Whatever my intentions, I recall my trembling fanboy hands shoving them in the faces of the Gore Shriek artists and my mouth involuntarily soliciting their professional opinions...

And this is why the Gore Shriek artists and the Gore Shriek legacy will always be close to my heart! They didn't laugh. They didn't even smirk. They studied my embarrassing scribbles with what appeared to be thoughtful scrutiny for several minutes. And they immediately responded with their authoritative advice. I'll never forget Greg Cappullo suggesting that if I learned to recreate the folds and wrinkles of clothing, my drawings would really spring to life. He proceeded to grab the Daredevil panel he had been working on and quickly gave me a lesson in how joints tend to pull fabric and how clothing folds create the illusion of gravity. He also wrote down the title of a book that he highly recommended to all aspiring artists, Drawing On The Right Side Of the Brain. I bought it later and read parts of it but never actually followed the course of lessons it describes. You should check it out some time.
Later that day I watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a big screen and almost had a religious experience. Appropriately, I also met Chas Balun who signed my copy of the recently released Gore Score (NERD!!!) and presented his hilarious slide show of gore. Heading back to our hotel room that evening with throngs of exhausted fans, including obnoxious horror rockers the Serial Killers, I also met the editor of Deathrasher 'zine from New Haven, CT and learned the true meaning of "fast music". But that's another story...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mutilation Graphics

Starlog 1993...
Whoa! Here's another gem from the archives of embarrassment! An interview I did back in 1993 while I was silkscreening for Mutilation Graphics in New York. At the time it was my good friend (and MG founder) Neil O'leary's policy to send a free t-shirt to any zine, no matter how small or obscure, that ran an ad for Mutilation Graphics. This led to the following interview which appeared in a tiny unknown xerox cartoon zine out of Fall River, Massachusetts called 'Charette's Eye View'. Yeah it's pretty stupid, but what were YOU doing in 1993?

Jim Charette: For those unfortunate few who've never heard of Mutilation Graphics could you explain just what it is and what you do?

Dennis Dread: Mutilation Graphics represents the cold slimy underbelly of modern civilization. Specifically, but not exclusively, American society. We stir up all the filth, rotting debris, flotsam, and jetsom that sinks straight to the bottom of the sea of humankind and throw it back in our own faces for the delight and disgust of all the world. Our specialty is T-shirts however, thanks to the persistent and generous support of our infernal bredren & sistren, we are expanding our line of uncompromisingly bizare high/low quality & inexpensive products. Our newest catalog is our biggest and ugliest yet and includes lots of new designs, color and glow-in-the-dark shirts, the 'World's Most Bizare Collector Card Sets', books, videos, jewelery, and 100% legal drugs. We also love to receive and promote zines so send us what you got!

How many folks are involved?

Hundreds, thousands, millions. When we go down it'll be bigger than Jonestown...bigger than Waco!
[Actually, in 1993 it was just 2 of us. 4 if you counted Neil's mom and dad. 5 if you counted his dog, Nitro. And we did.]

When did you start Mutilation and what made you start it?

Neil "Butch" O'leary is the father of Mutilation Graphics. He started it over 12 years ago, possibly for the same reasons stated above but most likely because he was bored and had way too much time on his hands. He's regretted it ever since.

Does Mutilation actually put food on the table or is it another one of your hairbrained schemes that takes up all of your free time? Is Mutilation keeping you folks from having to be part of "the working world"?

All of us have other projects going on all the time. Mutilation is beginning to feed's festering. But right now it simply can't support our drug addictions and overwhelming phone bills from 1-900-USA-FUCK and 1-900-HOT-LICK.

I've noticed that you carry the work of a few artists [such as] Spider Webb, Big Daddy Roth. Are you looking to add more folks to that list? Is there anyone you're actively pursuing and are you interested in receiving submissions?

We're actually very selective with the artists we seek out. In addition to Ed Roth and Spider Webb, we also print work by Jeff Gaither (the busiest cartoonist on the planet?!) R.K. Sloane, Teri Corben, Hans Holbein (the 'Dance of Death' woodcuts), William Blake, and John Gacy (who drew the skull logo for Bloody Mess & The Scabs from prison). We have to be selective because for some unexplainable reason the original art designs haven't been our best sellers. We would love to hear from Robert Williams, who has greatly inspired and influenced Mutilation, however he's already printing his work on full color shirts. Everyone should check out his 'Visual Addiction' book or a gallery showing if possible. Also, Joe Coleman's 'Cosmic Retribution' which was recently released by Fantagraphics. Charles Manson has called Joe Coleman "a caveman in a spaceship" and he's just that! Coleman is one of the most introspective, frightening, and competent artists to ever emerge from the underground.

I recently read that if you see a psychotic shirt on one of your favorite famous types, chances are it's one of Mutilation Graphics. How true is that?? You have a lot of well-known customers? Ever get a photo of Hillary Clinton wearing a 'Women of the SS' shirt??

Nobody famous would stoop so low.
[Actually people used to send us magazine clippings of "famous types" wearing our shirts like Vio-lence, The Butthole Surfers, Guns 'N' Roses, Kreator, The Dwarves, Impetigo, and John Waters. We had a huge mailing list of customers including the names of some of you reading this right now!]

One thing I really like about your shirts is the number of images that are sure to offend ('Manson Christ', 'I've Had 21 Abortions', etc) My question is, what would you consider too offensive to be printed?? Where do you draw the line??

All of our designs are chosen for their ability to affect a specific reaction. Most of them are humorous to some degree but most people don't really seem to know if they should laugh or cry. Our designs are almost archetypal in their sheer imbecility so they're great for revealing the strange values and beliefs and taboos of modern society. For that reason it's not a matter of "too offensive" or "too controversial". It's a matter of intentions and it's a question of what our society "is", "was" , and "is becoming". Does that answer your question?

Yup. Your catalog comes complete with a postal warning. Is that a just-in-case sort of thing or the result of some previous hassle you've had?

The postal warning is an attempt to warn people who might be unaware of what's inside. Occasionally we ship out our mailing list to find that people have moved and our catalog falls into the hands of a minister or four year old child. We serve a specific group of people and we don't feel we need to assault everyone with an unwanted catalog. Therefore we suggest they throw it away if it doesn't interest them. In terms of hassles, we've had relatively few. We've gotten our share of hate mail, which we encourage and of which we are very proud, but as of yet we've had no death threats. Just some serious recommendations for therapy.

Are there side projects that the Mutilation staff would like to tell us about? Anything you might be doing collectively or solo efforts that aren't necessarily Mutilation projects?

We hope to continue expanding as I've mentioned. We'll do just about anything for cash. In fact, Neil is available on weekends and he has an incredible foot fetish, so if you've got the $$ give him a call.

Any idea where you'd like Mutilation Graphics to be in, say, 10 years?


Anything you'd like to say to 'C.E.V' readers? Advice for successful living, favorite parlor games, blatant self-advertisment, anything?

This entire interview is a blatant self-advertisment! Send for a catalog. Check out our friends at Netherworld of Mt. Vernon, New York. They're great people. Stay away from heroin. Use condoms. Satan loves you. We do too.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Don't Burn The Witch!

'Rosaleen Norton: Australia's Favorite Witch' was originally sent to me several years ago as a small xerox copied article. I had recently interviewed the talented Australian cartoon artist Glenn Smith for Destroying Angels #6 and during our correspondences we learned of our shared reverence for this sadly obscure heathen soul. Glenno soon sent this short essay. I never published the article in Destroying Angels as it has clearly been reproduced elsewhere and is readily available on the internet. But it serves as an interesting introduction and seems perfectly appropriate for reproducing here. The article was written by Glenno's Australian anarchist pal who uses the name Takver, a reference to Ursula LeGuin's novel The Dispossessed. Takver's website is listed below. Check out the insane underground comic art of Glenn Smith while you're at it. Rosaleen Norton was an incredible woman whose bold and uncompromising life has ever more significance in our current climate of fundamentalism, fear, and conformity. Hail the Australian Anti-Christ!

Rosaleen Norton was unique in her time, and sadly, would still be unique today. She was a born mystic and visionary artist when to be such things meant being dismissed by most people as either possessed or insane. To the deadening forces of conservatism and conformity she was the epitome of wickedness, but despite the scandals which regularly erupted around her she carried herself with terrific style and a sense of humour. If she was the face of evil, she was a remarkably nice face of evil.

Rosaleen Norton, "Roie" to her friends, made a suitably dramatic entry to this world during a thunderstorm on the night of October 2, 1917 in Dunedin, New Zealand. She was born with a sinewy strip of flesh extending from her armpit to her waist, and later took this, along with physical peculiarities such as pointed ears and two dark spots on her knee, as signs that she was destined to be a witch.

She was the youngest of three daughters in a solidly Church of England family, her father being an affable merchant seaman named Albert. When she was seven the family moved to Sydney. Rosaleen grew up a solitary child, looking down her nose at other children, preferring spiders. Night was her favourite time, when ghosts were out, and for years she slept in a tent out in the garden. She liked drawing too, ghoulish stuff that got her into trouble with her teachers. When she was 14, the headmistress of her school, Chatswood Girls Grammar, became the first in a long line of people to identify Rosaleen as a corrupting influence on others, and she was expelled.

She studied art for a while, and at the age of 15 had several horror stories accepted by Smith's Weekly, a famously irreverent and lively newspaper which seems to have kept almost all of Sydney's bohemian community in gainful employment at one time or another. She preferred to work as an artist, but during her months there she failed to produce anything conventional enough even for Smith's, , and was let go.

She scraped a living doing odd jobs - kitchen hand, waitress, postal messenger- and as an artist's model for, among others, Norman Lindsay, whose work her own was often compared to. He called her "a grubby little girl with great skill who will not discipline herself." In 1935 she met and married another 17 year-old whose name is only recorded as Beresford, and the pair spent some time hitchhiking around the country from Brisbane to Melbourne. The marriage lasted until after the war.

In 1949 she scored her first major exhibition, at the Rowden-White Gallery at Melbourne University. She had been experimenting with self hypnosis and automatic drawing for years, devising rituals which would put her into a trance state in which she could explore other dimensions. Her paintings and drawings for the most part were depictions of the myriad of gods, demons and other entities with whom she communicated - and caroused - on these journeys. These beings - with god Pan being her personal favourite - were as real to her as the people around her. Rosaleen's swirling, flamboyant compositions, full of grotesque detail and writhing, interlocked forms, were at their best extremely powerful. They were certainly strong meat for 1940s Australia, and Constable Plod, turning up at the 1949 exhibition, predictably found them obscene. The police seized four works. Various academics came to Rosaleen's defence in the ensuing trial, and perhaps surprisingly, the charges were dropped and the police ordered to pay costs. Rosaleen's comment on the affair was "This figs leaf morality expresses a very unhealthy attitude."

A similar reaction greeted the publication in 1952 of The Art Of Rosaleen Norton, a collection of her illustrations accompanied by poems by her young boyfriend, Gavin Greenlees. The book's publisher, Walter Glover, was charged with obscenity and Rosaleen was back in court defending her art in terms of Jungian archetypes. Such arguments notwithstanding, the magistrate fined Glover five pounds and ordered that two pictures, including one of "Fohat", a cheeky looking demon with a snake for a penis, be obliterated from unsold copies of the book.

Rosaleen was by now firmly ensconced as one of the great characters of Kings Cross, the stamping ground of Sydney's prostitutes, criminals, artists and would-be cosmopolitans. Her paintings adorned the walls of its cafes, and visitors to Sydney, whose first trip was likely to be the Cross anyway, began to seek her out. The press had by now come to label her as a witch, and whilst the term never really described what Rosaleen was all about, she revelled in the attention, for a while at least. She certainly looked the part, her eyebrows plucked into high arches, her whole face, framed with jet black hair, a pattern of striking black curves which resembled nothing so much as one of her paintings. She was now being called the leader of a witch cult and whilst the "cult" never seemed to amount to much more than a few friends gathering in her small flat for occult talk and the occasional friendly ritual, this was too good a story for the tabloids to let go. Here is a typical account of a night at Roie's, from the 1965 pot-boiler Kings Cross Black Magic by "Attila Zohar".

"There were about eight or nine cult members present. They all wore hideous masks so were quite willing to be photographed, although they pointed out that there were certain rites which could not be performed before outsiders or cameras."Later Rosaleen Norton changed into her witch's outfit. She was nude except for a black apron for and aft from her waist and a black shawl over her shoulders. A cat mask covered her face, but did not prevent her smoking from a long cigarette holder.

The reporter noticed that the witches did not seem to walk - but rather to "drift silently" on bare feet. Later Roie discarded the shawl, leaving herself bare from the waist up. "Miss Norton has modelled in her time, and she was as unselfconscious with the shawl off as with it on" observed the reporter.

All the witches denied a somewhat facetious suggestion that they were merely people who liked dressing up. They insisted they were serious minded practitioners of the black arts. The reporter persisted and wanted to know what they got out of the cult.

Rosaleen Norton answered for all the witches present when she said "I get a life that holds infinite possibilities and is entirely satisfactory to me on all planes of consciousness."

Little outbreaks of scandal kept the legend of "The Witch of Kings Cross" bubbling along nicely. In 1955 the police picked up a homeless adolescent girl, Anna Hoffman, who blamed her sorry state on one of Rosaleen's black masses. She later admitted that she had made all this up, but not before the newspapers had taken the story and run with it. In the same year the Sun was approached by two men offering allegedly pornographic photos of Rosaleen and Gavin Greenlees performing unnatural acts. These, it transpired, had been taken as a joke at one of Rosaleen's birthday parties. All the notoriety had proved too much for Gavin Greenlees, it seems. He had been diagnosed as schizophrenic in 1957 and institutionalised. Juiciest of all was the sage of Sir Eugene Goosens, The British-born conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a friend of Rosaleen's and participant in her rituals. In March 1957 he was caught at Mascot Airport trying to smuggle into the country a whole swag of goodies including banned books, ritual masks and "1,166 pornographic photographs". Sir Eugene was given a hefty fine and returned to England in ignominy. This was not the sort of behaviour expected of a conductor at all.

Rosaleen Norton began to drop out of the public eye in the 1960s. Suddenly her behaviour didn't seem so strange anymore - who wasn't into the occult revival? In the June 15, 1967 issue of Australian Post, journalist Dave Barnes gives an account of a visit to the increasingly reclusive witch. He describes how he and a colleague started their search at the flat she had occupied at the height of her fame in the '50s, questioned a few less than helpful locals, and eventually located her front door through which they dropped a request for her to ring their office so an interview could be arranged. The following day they were invited into Rosaleen's dark, 10 foot by 6 foot room, adorned with "giggling masks, a Satan statue, gongs and strikers, snakes and growing creepers". They found her in an apparently cheerful mood, playing up her reputation for all it was worth. As they reported "She produced a little box and said "look, these are real bat's feet, there are not many of them about and I wear them for ear-rings, attractive aren't they?"

Politely ignoring their more flippant questions, she told them she enjoyed TV shows like The Munsters, The Addams Family and Bewitched, suggesting their makers may know a thing or two about how witches really operate. She was particularly interested in how the journalists tracked her down, and at what time. Puzzled, they told her they left their office just before 4pm and dropped the message through her door at 4.45pm. This made her laugh. Later, back in their office, they found that Rosaleen's call in answer had been logged in at 4pm the previous day - before they had actually delivered it. Game, set and match to Rosaleen.

Rosaleen Norton's health began to fail in the '70s. She was diagnosed with colon cancer and in 1979 admitted to the Sacred Heart Hospice for the Dying. One of her friends during her last years was Richard Moir, who published a memoir about her in 1994. Moir draws a distinction between Roie, the private person he knew, and the Rosaleen Norton persona she created for the public, and paints a vivid picture of her final days.

"When I arrived at the hospital I was ushered into the visitors lounge room, strange I thought, as Roie couldn't walk.

I waited in the lounge room for some time patiently, suddenly Rosaleen Norton appeared physically standing on both legs, welcoming me, escorted by two sisters. The vision I beheld was, mind blowing.

Rosaleen Norton (not Roie) standing there in full garb, her hair flaming back, carefully arranged in her look. Her make-up had been very carefully applied, the face powder, the Rosaleen Norton full eye makeup and eye brows, the red lipstick. It was the Rosaleen Norton as I had always remembered he- but even more so.

She stood for only one minute... The last words Rosaleen Norton ever said to me were "Darling; I can't stay too long, I just came to say hello. Ah! I must go Darling." And with her head in a proud position Rosaleen Norton was escorted away out of my sight forever."

Rosaleen Norton died on 5 December 1979, surrounded by nuns, but needless to say, a pagan to the last.

© Takver

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Dennis Dread proudly stakes a claim among the questionable heritage of subversive art that encompasses gory horror pulps of the 50's, degenerate underground comix of the 60's & 70's, the DIY anti-graphics of 80's hardcore punk and metal, and the heathen proclivities of 19th century volkisch symbolists. Born at home in 1972 in New York's folklore-rich Hudson River Valley, near Sing Sing Prison and Sleepy Hollow, he enjoyed a childhood of monster movies and home-made comic books and at the age of 18 began silkscreen printing for the infamous terrorist t-shirt company Mutilation Graphics. Dennis held his post at Mutilation Graphics for four years while working on his drawing skills and studying literature and comparative mythology at the State University of New York at Purchase. Following several cross-country drawing sprees, Mr. Dread jumped off a freight train passing through Portland, Oregon and the City of Roses has served as his headquarters ever since. Dennis Dread's visceral and obsessively detailed ballpoint pen drawings have appeared on numerous national and international metal and punk records, including work for such extreme-noise luminaries as Autopsy, Abscess, Phobia, Engorged, Abigail, and Machetazo. Dennis also edits and self-publishes the long running underground art magazine Destroying Angels. His writing has been published in Runa, a journal of Northern European occult traditions published in England by Ian Read. When he is not hunched over a drawing table howling at the moon, Dennis can be found assisting homeless youth on the streets of Portland, Oregon where he earns his professional title as a street outreach worker.

Past public exhibits include:

Invasion of the Monster Men (group exhibit) Gallery Bink 10/2001

Live By The Pen, Die By The Sword! (solo exhibit) Medusa Gallery 5/2002

Intermission (group exhibit) Optic Nerve Arts 12/2004

Heathen Art (group exhibit) Optic Nerve Arts 8/2005

Candy Apples & Razor Blades (solo exhibit) Counter Media 10/2005

Zombies! (group exhibit) MF Gallery 1/2006

Halloween Show (group exhibit) MF Gallery 9/2006

Spill The Beer of Christ (solo exhibit) Optic Nerve Arts 6/2006

Entartete Kunts (curated group exhibit) Optic Nerve Arts 6/2007