BizarroCon 2014: Like Pinball in the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 21, 2014 by dwbarbee

Last weekend I attended BizarroCon in Portland, Oregon, where all the weirdos gather to read, write, and to just get excited about strange books. It’s a magical time for a fan of bizarro fiction like myself, and it helps me to build and improve myself as a bizarro author. Plus there are tons of interesting folks to meet, especially this year, which saw a lot of new faces. Faces like this:


I arrived in Portland Thursday and met Robert Devereaux at his gate. He gave me a ride in his rental car over to Edgefield, where the convention was being held. Devereaux is a great guy and one of the first bizarro writers I ever read (seriously, I read his story “Fructus in Eden” ten years ago when I worked in a children’s library). Robert speaks with both experience and a real sense of kindness. He’s extremely nice for a guy who writes sex and violence the way he does. Anyway, I got to Edgefield, checked in, and started hugging people. Later I wound up in the pool hall with John Skipp and Jim Agpalza. Jim and I made plans for something really raunchy as we each got whooped by Skipp, because he’s some sort of pool Jedi.


I also got some awesome books. There are always too many great books and authors at BizarroCon to properly give them all a shoutout. I got to attend two workshops, one by the brilliant madman Cody Goodfellow and the other by Brian Allen Carr. Brian’s a really cool dude and a VERY smart writer. It was great to hear some of his wisdom and generally just shoot the shit. He’s from Texas, he’s a wildman, and you sort of want him to ramble on about how time is a flat circle. Great dude. Unfortunately I missed his badass reading on Friday night, but made up for it the next day at the Broken River Books reading. Cody Goodfellow did my favorite reading of the con and Michael Kazepis was a close second with my favorite line: “I am seventeen going on dust.” Just beautiful.


That’s Kevin L. Donihe, lovingly embraced by Michael Allen Rose… moments before he gives Donihe the agonizing electrical prod that he so desperately craves. And that was just one traumatic scene from the Ultimate Bizarro Showdown, where fifteen of us stand before our peers and strive to make asses of ourselves. There were a lot of great performances and stories being told. Andy Adams gave a performance entitled “Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Umbrellas Instead of Chainsaws” and newcomer Tom Lucas laid some very too-weird-to-be-made-up shit on us. In the middle of all that, Nick Gucker came over and gave me a backrub. Super strong hands on that guy.  Ultimately, Karl Fischer won the Showdown with his Blackbird poetry, using award-winning author and Broken River publisher J. David Osborne as a prop.


It was fantastic. I had a great time as always and it felt really good to see all my weird friends and fellow writers. I got to have some good conversations with my editor and publisher and I feel like I’m going to be growing a lot as an author in the coming year. Big things are coming. You want an example? Well, check out the second name from the top….


Pilgrimage to Portland

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2014 by dwbarbee

Last weekend I went to visit my publisher in Portland, Oregon. I’m pretty much always happy to be an author in the Eraserhead Press stable, but this was especially exciting. I got to visit with other bizarro authors without convention duties getting in the way. I got to have fun, learn stuff, and see a truly beautiful city. I got to drink a ton of fucking beer.


The plane ride was okay. I got to watch some episodes of Hannibal, which is an awesome show. Karl Fischer picked me up from the airport and introduced me to the first of the many food trucks that would provide most of my sustenance. Then we hung out with Jeff Burk, who is the coolest because he let me stay at his place over the trip. Huge thanks to him and his roommates. I slept in the living room with a dog wearing a cone of shame. His snoring actually helped me sleep. So we all hung out at Jeff’s talking about geeky stuff and using foul language. I also met Squishy, Jeff’s gigantically obese cat. Meeting Squishy is like touching the fingertip of God. She’s like a big fuzzy Buddha and we all have no choice but to worship and adore her. And pictures don’t do her justice. She’s twice as big as this image suggests:


Afterwards, we went to Lucky Lab to visit Carlton Mellick III and Rose O’Keefe, which was awesome. We talked about the direction I should be heading as an author, and I’m very excited about it. I’m working on polishing off the three novellas coming up next as well as writing the novel after that, but the pitches I’m working on now are going to be very badass. If you liked A Town Called Suckhole, you’re going to get more stories similar to that. So we drank beers and ate pizza and shut Lucky Lab down, then we went to the Eraserhead Press office so I could see where it all happens. They had a lot of books, some Lovecraftian stuffed animals, and some disgusting food. It was great! I even got to wear Kevin Donihe’s signature wig.


Then things went crazy. The next day Jeff and I decided to go outside and conquer the fucking world. We went to a comic book swap, where I bought seventeen issues of Spider-Man 2099 and Jeff got some Amalgam Comics. We went to a bunch of comic book shops and video game stores because Portland has a ton of each. Outside one of the video game shops was a guy with a keyboard singing a jazzy song called “I’m Gonna Hurt You, Girl.” I think he was making it up as he went, and he may have also been crazy, but he was giving that song his all. Speaking of that, while walking the streets I saw a ton of homeless people, a bunch of crazy folks, and a fucking armada of hipsters.


That’s a picture of the bathroom in Ground Kontrol, an arcade/bar that quickly became my favorite thing in the universe. Jeff also showed me around Powell’s, where I signed a copy of The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade. We visited Upper Playground to see Alex Pardee’s Bunnywith gallery. We drank beers down the street from Mary’s, an awesome strip club. Jeff told me where the term “Shanghaied” comes from. We went inside the Lovecraft Bar for only a few moments because that place was WAY too cool for a dork like me. We visited the infamous Voodoo Donuts, and finally we met back with Rose and Carlton for more beers and a visit with Vince Kramer, who’s a really good hugger. Jeff and I finally went back to his place and worshipped Squishy some more until it was time for sleep.


The next morning I met with Rose for breakfast. We had a really nice talk about books and being an author and it was exactly what I wanted out of the whole trip. I’m very fortunate to work with such amazing people, with each of us sharing a passion for putting weird stories out into the world. Rose took me to the airport just as the hipster brunch crowd was starting to arrive. Thank you, Rose. Thank you, Jeff. And thank you to everyone else I saw last weekend. You’re all awesome and I had an amazing time. I would say “drink a beer for me!” but let’s be honest, you had a beer started before you even read this.

Game of Thrones Art: A Zone of Zombies

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2014 by dwbarbee

The fourth season of Game of Thrones just ended and it was a great season. But now we’re stuck with the annual ten months of Not Game of Thrones, the reality we live in when the best show ever isn’t on. I hate that reality. So to deal with Thrones Withdrawal, I created some art. Originally the plan was to make white walkers of the show’s dead characters, but that wound up messing with the color scheme. Plus, no blood, and there must be blood. So I made them zombies. And I made them in MSPaint, which might just be my favorite way to draw these days. Here they are:

I started with Oberyn Martell, because you start with awesome.


Then I made Ned Stark, the show’s first big soul-shattering death.


And for the final episode I did Tywin Lannister, fresh from the privy.


There were others I wanted to draw (like Ygritte, Joffrey, Maester Luwin, and Qhorin Halfhand), but I’ve got books to write and flights to book. Let these pieces remind you of how awesome season four was. Game of Thrones really does get better with each season, and let us pray that it stays that way. That goes double for the books. Hear that, George R. R. Martin? Please don’t Dark Tower your readers. Please.

Praise for the upcoming THE NIGHT’S NEON FANGS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 5, 2014 by dwbarbee

My next book will be a collection of three novellas, the title story of which is THE NIGHT’S NEON FANGS. This story came about through Eraserhead’s pitch-a-palooza contest, where a ton of bizarro authors pitched as many weird book ideas as they could. This was my successful entry, a story about an electric werewolf in a world where it rains mummies. If that doesn’t seem weird enough, it started out with a character who had dolphins for arms and legs. Well, after cutting out the dolphins and writing the thing, I sent out THE NIGHT’S NEON FANGS to some authors I respect and admire a great deal. One of them, Stephen Graham Jones, already responded with some very kind words:

“In my worst nightmares, the werewolves have these glowing fangs. David Barbee takes that about twenty steps farther, in here. Now I’ve got new nightmares. Better nightmares.”

If you don’t know Stephen Graham Jones, you should fix that. He rules. He’s a connoisseur of horror and has written a ton of brilliant books like “The Last Final Girl,” “Zombie Bake-Off,” and “It Came From Del Rio,” just to name a few. I’m monumentally grateful to him for these kind words, and hopefully you’ll be able to see them on the cover of THE NIGHT’S NEON FANGS soon. It might end up looking something like this: 


Interview @ Surreal Grotesque

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 28, 2014 by dwbarbee

I was interviewed for the Surreal Grotesque podcast, where I talked about my writing career, the publishing world, how awesome bizarro is, and how to sneak into college without paying tuition. You can listen to it here. My interview comes after the segment with Juliet Escoria, a fantastic writer in her own right.

My Books in Barnes & Noble

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 19, 2014 by dwbarbee

The manager of my local Barnes & Noble is a douche, so forget having bizarro books on display there. But in Fairbanks,  Alaska you can find this:


Gigantic thanks to my friend Sarah Hartley Shaw for getting A Town Called Suckhole into a corporate chain store! I’m extremely happy about this since it’s the first time I’ve seen one of my books in a Barnes & Noble, and I’m even happier because I know it won’t be the last. Bizarro will take over the bookshelves one of these days, and no amount of elitist bookkeepers can stop it.

Speaking of taking over, you should see about getting Thunderpussy into your local BN. Suckhole looks lonely. You can order it for yourself or just ask them to stock it, even if the manager is a stuffy old douche.

Report: Bizarro Fiction at MGA Con

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 21, 2014 by dwbarbee

Last weekend I went to my very first comic con, Macon’s MGA Con. Swimming in the nerdstream has always been a dream of mine, with the added bonus that I’m an author now, so I got to sell books and spread my literary virus to the masses. It was a strange and nerve-wracking experience, but in the end it was a resounding success. Now I’m here to tell you all about it.


The lead-up to the whole experience had me very anxious. Even with all my arrangements in order I was still nervous as hell. Enter my wife, who took me out Friday evening to visit our old friend Tyler to shoot the shit. It was great and really helped relax me for the journey to come. The next morning I headed out to the Macon Centreplex for MGA Con. Instead of driving all the way around to the building’s entrance, I wound up parking at the loading dock because a sign said so. That sign was a bunch of comic book artists smoking next to the dumpsters.


With my table set up and a hearty breakfast of potato chips in my belly, I started to take in my surroundings. Not only was the place filled with cool comics and artwork, costumed people were everywhere. There were zombies, ghostbusters, a pack of teenagers wearing cute anime/Pokemon pajamas (they looked like a hardened gang, actually), and even a fat Batman. In the afternoon my wife showed up to help me sell books and refine my sales pitch. There was some sort of talk about my pitch being blunt and awkward.


Then my friend Jeffrey showed up to threaten me with cannibalism, which he’s been doing since we were in kindergarten. He wound up scaring off a potential buyer, but then made up for it by buying a copy of Thunderpussy for his girlfriend. I noticed that Thunderpussy was popular with women, actually. The cool ones, that is. Some women shielded their childrens’ eyes when walking by my table. I took those instances as endorsements. Before he left Jeffrey gave my wife a Dark Phoenix bobblehead, which was awesome of him.


On Sunday it rained cats and dogs and I practically hydroplaned my way to the Centreplex. I came to realize that rednecks really liked A Town Called Suckhole. One guy said I was lucky to be able to display the rebel flag on the cover of my book, because oppression or something. Others asked if the book was anything like their favorite television programs, Duck Dynasty and Honey Boo Boo. While wincing internally, I smiled and said “Hell yeah!”


That’s a print that artist Budd Root let me have from his table. I’m going to frame it for my office. Mr. Root is an awesome artist and draws one of my favorite things in the world: boobs. By the end of the con I had sold almost all of my books and all anxiety had been lifted from me. Happy and content, I left the con and made sure to rub Aku’s tummy on my way out.


I came home and reported the success to my wife. Then we watched the Golden Compass together. I have one last book, a copy of Thunderpussy, and i’m planning to take it to Avalon Comics in Macon, where it will be available for purchase. Now that it’s all over I’d like to thank everyone for their support, those who bought a book or made conversation with me. It was a great experience and I’ll definitely be there next year, hopefully with even more books.


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