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The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #10/11
"The new DARK ANIMUS is splendid, and on a personal note, I LOVE the artwork that goes with my story! My sincere gratitude and compliments to the artist, please."
"Hey, great internal artwork! I just love Brian Smith's work, and I dug Dion's Interferer's picture . . . "
P.Haines - AUS
"The issue looks like a great one. You should be proud."
K.Anderson - USA
"The cover for 10/11 is quite striking, hang on to that guy. Reminds me of the old Oriental Tales from the American pulp era. Just from the content listing so far I suspect that your double issue is a contender for best small press publication to date in this country."
S.Studach - AUS
The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #9.
"Well, I got my first
subscription issue, #9, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Coffin was
excellent. Overall the mag was a satisfying and enjoyable read. Great
presentation, esp. the satin finish cover.
Tweatherall - AUS
"I did read DA#9 (eek, #9 already?!) a while back, a little at a time, before bed. . . . The Coffin was my favourite--creepy with a nice nasty twist! I also particularly enjoyed The Incorruptible and The Overcoat. I stop by your site every so often, and I'm looking forward to the next issue! "
L.Von Biela - USA
"Loved seeing my story in issue #9, and Russell Morgan's artwork was perfect for it. Great stories too. I especially liked the other two (AHWA) prizewinners"
B.Riley - AUS
."It's a great looking magazine. I really like the format, and your story choices are excellent."
Editors, BBT Magazine - USA
"Just finished DA#9 last night and enjoyed it as always. the art was great and the standout stories for me were "The Coffin" and "The Incorruptible". Curran's "Sand Trap" was a fun pulpy SF/horror read. guess he played with ant-lions as a kid too! probably with a magnifying glass sticking out of his back pocket..."
Alex - ???
"I have been reading Dark Animus # 9 with much enjoyment. What a handsome issue it is. The binding, paper and general cut of the beast look good. My favoured story so far is The Overcoat. I am currently enjoying Tim Curranâs Sand Trap. I love a good S.F. Horror Pulp story. (The last such I read was The Immeasurable Horror by Clark Ashton Smith some years back, way too long between drinks.) Makes the wait for 10/11 one of appreciative anticipation. Keep making the good choices âArcaneâ."
S.Studach - AUS
"Got the latest issue the other day and it looks great, especially the binding"
I.Simmons - UK
"Received DA #9 yesterday--it is beautiful, very nicely produced. . . . Just wanted you to know it arrived safely and is gorgeous!"
L.Von Biela - USA
"Though Dark Animus 9 is good I really wasn't taken with a number of stories. Sand Trap, in my mind, should never have seen publication. But, and this is a big BUT, I am incredibly hard on fiction, . . . I tend to dislike a lot of work that goes on to do good things, so my negative view may in fact be a positive view for you. . . . If I had to give #7 a mark out of 10, I'd say it gets a 7 -- about two points higher then the last Aurealis I read."
R.Stephenson - AUS
"The cover looks fantastic, Dion did a fantastic job. I'm glad it features Ironside, hehe. (sorry I can't do an evil laugh when I'm this happy, a silly giggle will have to do)"
S.Bailey - AUS
The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #8.
Review at Whispers of Wickedness
Review at Horrorscope
"Brian Smith's cover art is great! Beautifully done, and so evil! My favourite tale in this issue was 'Open Season'--great suspense, I couldn't put it down, and then such a lovely little twist. Curran strikes again. 'A Sweetheart Deal' was my next favourite--full of creepy-crawly weirdness. Almost a shame for it to be a short--the 'deal' could probably support a longer work, with lots of intrigue. 'Sticks and Stones' packed quite a lot of characterization in for a short piece. Another nice, creepy one. Had a bit of an Algernon Blackwood-ish feel in how it ended."
"I'd just like to thank you for your response times with my new subscription. It's great to see great service and I really appreciated it. I enjoyed reading Issue 8 but felt a tiny bit let down by Richard D. Moore's story. It reminded me too much of an earlier piece by Graham Masterton that I liked much better.
But considering the current world climate I found Mike Philbin's piece a very challenging read. Hat's off to a writer that can take a subject as controversial as a bombing and turning into a powerful piece of fiction. And hat's off to the editor who publishes such a piece as well."
JL.Cooper - AUS
"The Dark Animus team has done it again by serving up an issue thatâs as satisfying as a faultless meal. Seven courses were dished out this time, with each as succulent as the last. The main course of raw Curran again went down very well (congrats to the chef for keeping this on the menu). Artwork from the top draw served as a fine complement, their form was a visual treat. As with any decent chow down there has to come a time to sit back, undo a button or two and reflect on the pleasure just undertaken. Itâs been two days since reading #8 and already Iâm starving. How will I survive until #9?"
S.Clark - AUS
"The cover art was incredible on DA8 by the way. Really stunning. . . . The artwork was amazing for Mistress. Some great fiction in there."
R.Moore - USA
The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #7.
"I thought the issue was fantastic!! Loved it to bits. Top work, James. BTW, what the hell does Paul Haines smoke, and where can I get some!?!?"
M.Young - AUS
Review of Issue #7 at Whispers of Wickedness
"BTW, great job with Dark Animus #7. You and ASIM really make Australia a great place for horror and sci-fi."
J.Sizemore - USA
"Got Dark Animus 7 in the
mail - been reading all afternoon when I should have been revising. Great
fiction choices. TC's 'The Snake Man' and 'Doof Doof Doof' by Paul Haines are
my favorites thus far.
.... (second email follows)
Man, 'Doof Doof Doof' was
hilarious. 'Soul Money' was great too. Had a real TZ feel to it.
R.Moore - USA
Ticonderoga Online Issue #3 review Dark Animus #7
"It was another strong
issue, and I'm looking forward to (many) more! My particular favorites
Lisa von Biela - USA
Rec'd the latest issue of DA -- very nice. loved the cover. so did the cat when she got a hold of it..."
N.Purnell - USA
"Finally got around to reading the mags (DA #5-7). Been busy/rundown with work etc. Loved the stuff inside. Tim Johnson, Tim Curran, and Paul Haines write some killer stuff. . . . By the way, the matte finish of DA #5 rules. The less colour and gloss the better ;D"
"Got DA #7. Wow, incredible artwork. Loved it. Great illustration for my tale. You were right. Thanks for the cover and the interior. Appreciate it, man. I like that cover even better than the "puppet" cover. And I loved the puppet cover!"
T.Curran - USA
"(You) were absolutely right about the illustration. Perfect!"
T.Gates-Grimwood in reference to the illustration for Soul Money - UK
"Oh, what a great issue! The cover is all aces - I just love it!"
G.Higham - USA
"I received the 2 samples of Dark Animus. Thank you. It looks pretty good, I hope someday your magazine will be as famous as Weird Tales or Amazing Stories and this" issue#7 will be searched all over the world by collectors."
HervĂ© - France
"I just received my issue of Dark Animus 7. Every story was quality and very much worth the time it took to read them. I find this rare in the small press world; many of the magazines I subscribe usually contain a few duff stories in any one issue, but not yours. Keep up the excellent work."
"Another excellent issue . . . I love Brian Smiths artwork in Snake man, Awesome!!"
D. Hamill - AUS
"Firstly, let me tell you how gob-smacked & blown away I am regarding the quality of your magazine, there are stories inside #5 & #6 that will be impossible to forget! Received #7 Friday and have begun to savor the stories (I'm limiting myself to a story every two days, just to prolong the reading experience and to give each inclusion its due). . . . I do hope that Dark Animus will continue to live a long and fulfilling life. It would be gut-wrenching to have so recently discovered such a gem and have it plucked away so soon!"
S. Clark - AUS
"Love the picture! Haven't had a chance to read it yet, but skimmed through again -- man, you are scoring great art work these days."
P. Haines - AUS
The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #6.
"I have always enjoyed Dark Animus--particularly issue 6, with its exciting cover art and thrilling batch of short stories. The style of "Little Miss Wicked" was an inspiration. . . "
T. McAuley - USA
"Issue #6 of DA was brilliant. I loved the von Biela and Milne stories, and I think 'The Cycle', by Mr. Dyer, belongs in 'best of' collections - I grinned like an idiot the whole time I was reading it. And the second time, as well. Keep up the good work."
J. Sunseri - USA
"I finished reading issue #6 and I couldn't believe how fantastic it was. There are some very amazing writers in Dark Animus. Some stories that stood out for me were Tim Curran, Troy Milne, Tim Johnson and Kevin Dyer. Some great artwork by Allen Koszowski, Alex McVey and others."
J. Ordolis - USA
"I recently finished DA #6 and again you did an exceptional job. I enjoyed the whole issue, but in my opinion "The Cycle" was the standout. "Naming Names" made me grin, and Tim Curran's tale was true to form. I dream of being able to write like Mr. Curran."
J. Robinson - USA
"Just finished reading Dark Animus #6, thought it rather an eclectic collection.
Although I have two favorites. Naming Names, by Tim Johnson, being the first, a rather unexpected twist, nice dab of dark humor although you could sense an undercurrent of unease.
Also, Neither Fruit Nor Fish, by R.J Barker, was pretty excellent, very original. It unsettled me great by its invasive nature, the slow degeneration of the protagonist and the fact that she had no hope although at the same time seemed to embrace her fate. I was hooked.
The Chase, by Troy Milne, was superbly amusing, you could well imagine something like that taking place, although placed in the future it's not impossible to believe us human's would still try and dodge our fares! The last line summed the whole story up well.
My only quibble is with Peggy Sue by Elaine Shipp, although I liked the idea, very unusual, I thought the story could have had more mileage, kinda standard with no real suprise toward the end.
Little Miss Wicked, by Tim Curran, was beautifully dark and bleak, brilliant characterization.
Diversions, by Lisa Von Biela, had an unusual and fresh theme, although I think there could have been more about the character himself. I liked the ending though, it spoke of one helluva big bang!
The Cycle, by Kevin Dyer, was excellent, there should be more stories like this. A brilliant twist and the idea <spoiler removed> was amusing.
Rapture, by Andrew Lyall, was strangely unsettling, the very fact that only people who could affordit were the ones who would survive was unnerving, you could almost believe something like that was possible - especially the way scientists tinker around with impossible theories!
In Our Midst, by Hertzan Chimera, I found dark, brooding and threatening. There was a kind of animalistic lust throughout, of hunger and suppressed rage. a very unusual story."
G. Farrow - UK
"Cover to cover, great stuff, as usual. Still have to say "Little Miss Wicked" is my favorite piece, but all of the stories pulled me right in and gave me some good scares. Dark Animus has yet to let me down."
T. Johnson - USA
"I have not had a chance to read any of it yet (still wading through Aurealis #33 stories) but I have had a look through and the artwork is awesome! Dion's work gets better every time I see something new (I'll have to contact him about some Aurealis work) and he has a great range. I especially love the In Our Midst illo. My favourites though have to be Allen Koszowski's "The Cycle" (has a great Hans Bok Weird Tales style that I love) and Brian Smith's "Diversions". Can't wait to start reading :)"
A. McKiernan - AUS
"Took DA#6 with me on vacation, and enjoyed it immensely. Which I expected. ;-) Again, Brian Smith's artwork was perfect for "Diversions"! My favorite stories? Well, Tim Curran did his usual excellent job with "Little Miss Wicked." Now he's pulled off a nice noir feel. Damn! I'm proud to have my work sitting next to his. "Naming Names" was a nice, creepy little short. And I want to congratulate Andrew Lyall for "Rapture." First, for his first published story. That's always special. Second, for doing such a damned fine job with it. He took a very short little piece of time and packed not only an interesting idea (the chip and associated technology) in there, but also a wonderful scene with the father and daughter. That one stuck with me, it was so sad.
And then there's "The Cycle." I enjoyed the story very much, but I have something extremely creepy to report. My inspiration for "Diversions" came from a nightmare I had in which I was in an elevator and a stranger dressed as a priest entered and said nothing. In the dream, he seemed quietly menacing. And in the dream, he was wearing a hat exactly as described in "The Cycle"! I deliberately chose to leave that detail of his apparel out of my story; it didn't seem to fit my modern time period. When I was reading "The Cycle" and came across the description of the hat, I freaked. Not only was there the similarity of having the evil entity dressed as a priest, but the hat detail was bizarre, because no one (other than my personal journal) knew that detail about my original dream! WEIRD!!!!
Thanks again for another great issue!"
Lisa von Biela - USA
"Thanks alot. It was great
to see my stuff in print and cool to see an illustration of it. Very moody ...
I loved Allen Koszowski's interpretation.
K.Dyer - IRELAND
"I'm a bit late sending this email, but
I just wanted to write a quick note to say that I enjoyed reading the latest
issue of your magazine.
M.McAuliffe - AUS
"Haven't had a read yet, but on the first glance through you have scored excellent artwork! Fucking excellent actually -- you managed to score Brian Smith's art (the one for "Diversions" was on display at Conflux -- I dug it then too). And Dion Hammil ain't no slouch either. Love Keith's illustration for "Little Miss Wicked"."
P.Haines - AUS
"I'm halfway through the issue you sent to me. So far, I love "Peggy Sue" but I didn't like "The Chase" because it had a sort of "cheap ending." Like the writer used an easy way out. Just my opinion. :) The other ones are okay. Right now, "Peggy Sue" is my favorite."
D.Wilson - USA
"I recieved my copy of issue 6 last week and I've been making my way through it since. Another fantastic issue and thanks for letting me do the cover!"
D.Hamill - AUS
"It's finally here! What a great read. The stories were more than a thrill ride. Nice selection. Looking forward to the next issue and more poetry."
AE.Woodward - USA
"Got DA #6...man, that's an incredible illustration for Little Miss Wicked! Wow...very morbid and unpleasant."
T.Curran - USA
"Great to see the new issue, it was worth the wait! I was initially disappointed to see only one poetry submission this time round but the quality of the stories made up for it. I particularly enjoyed the stories by Tim Curran, Troy Milne and Kevin Dyer. I am undecided about the new glossy cover, it might take getting used to. Can't wait for the next issue."
R.Niesche - AUS
"Hey man Your right, 6 does rok!! nice glossy print!!"
Zakas - USA
"And I did get my copy of DA#6 -- actually, just found out the second copy came in the mail as I'm writing this...glossy cover on this one. Love the cover art, by the way. I also love the artwork for my tale (Alex McVey) -- all the artwork, actually. I've read "Little Miss Wicked" and "The Chase," both very enjoyable. I'm looking forward to reading the rest. "
T.Johnson - USA
"I received the contiutors' copy of DankAnalMouse#6 this morning. Love the illustration to Little Miss Wicked."
H.Chimera - UK
"I received Dark Animus issue 6 yesterday. I was incredibly impressed, I hadn't even finalised the subscription payment yet! . . . You've cemented my faith with the Aussie magazine/small press with your incredibly swift response. I'm already three-quarters of the way through, and I am particularly enjoying the 'dark' feel that is often lacking in other Aussie magazines. Great editorial work."
S.Cummings - AUS
"I received my contributor copy today. And all I can say is WOW! You are right--the artwork for Diversions is absolutely right-on and excellent. Very evil and foul (meant as a compliment). It really fits my vision of the nasty central character. I shall write to Brian as well (I see his email is in the issue) to give him my compliments personally. Thank you so much! Can't wait to read it all, as always...."
Lisa von Biela - USA
The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #5.
"I really enjoyed Dark Animus #5, and am very pleased to have subscribed to such a professional-looking and entertaining magazine. Thank you! It reminded me of a UK magazine (now sadly defunct) called Peeping Tom. I enjoyed most of the stories, but by far the best (in my opinion) were the two 'puppet' tales - Puppet Graveyard and the fantastic The Puppeteer. I was in awe of Tim Curran's piece - "And those faces... dear God, deformed, misshapen, like things sculpted from wax that had melted in the sun, pooled and ran, settling in all the wrong places. But their eyes... black and wet and ghoulish" - wow, what writing!!!! Glad to see it won The George in #6. Congratulations on a fine magazine."
P.Edwards - UK
"I'm still reading issue #6, so I don't have a favorite piece from there yet, but I read issue #5 earlier and for me (and apparently for many other readers as well) Tim Curran's "The Puppeteer" was the definite standout. I've read several of Tim's other works (including the "Headhunter" chapbook), but "The Puppeteer" strikes me as one of his best efforts to date!"
J.Hall - USA
"Dark Animus #5 arrived yesterday and I've already read it cover to cover. Very impressive! It's good to see an Australian magazine like this again!"
K.McDermott - AUS
"Just a quick note
to let you know that I enjoyed DA #5 and I look forward to future issues!
M.McAuliffe - AUS
"I really enjoyed issue 5 of Dark Animus; some of the stories still refuse to
M.Fryer - UK
"Hello again. I received my copy of Dark Animus #5, thank you. At this point, 'The Beetle' was my favourite of the issue. Of course that may change after a second reading of the magazine."
J.Robinson - USA
"Just wanted to let you know that I got my copies of DA#5 today, and it looks great! I really like the artwork for my tale. Not what I expected, but a very nice surprise. Tell Cat I send my thanks. . . . Can't wait to get right into this issue. I already read Hardboiled. It was a nice quickie, quite funny. I had to read it a second time (which didn't take long) before I picked up on it entirely. I hope DA readers are enjoying my tale. Thanks for everything."
T.Johnson - USA
"Well, I just got DA #5. Looks great. Awesome illo by Heesco for my story! Chris Friend's illo for "Cheating the Devil" is excellent, too. Nice job. Haven't read anything yet, of course. Just opened the package."
T.Curran - USA
"Heya, James. I did receive my copy of DA. It totally blew me away. The fiction, poetry, and artwork were great. Thank you for making me a part of Issue #5."
T.Lopez III - Phillipines
"Another great issue of D.A.! I especially enjoyed Highamâs âPuppet Graveyard,â a very well written story that I felt was strong on both a visual and visceral level. The gloomy backdrop of the plague was very effective in reflecting the puppet maker's nightmarish descent. Perhaps a story written in a way only a puppet maker could write? âHardboiledâ made me laugh, and âMirrorrimâ was a cunningly designed. I felt, though, that âThe Beetleâ was really the highlight of the issue as its SF feel and cyclical implications had me thinking even after I finished the issue. Also I must note that Khosnaranâs artwork was superb. Looking forward to the next issue."
N.Scipior - USA
"By the way, forgot to mention I received my copy of issue 5, it looks fantastic. I've been rapidly making my way through it, all the stories are top quality. I especially enjoyed Tim Curran's the Puppeteer!"
D.Hamill - Australia
"Just about finished with the latest issue (the puppet issue?). I've only read two issues of DA so far, but in both cases I was quite surprised at the quality of the fiction. I especially liked Nelson Stanley's "True Love". It will probably get my vote in the contest. I also like the fact that all your space is dedicated to fiction and poetry. Anyway, good luck and keep up the great work."
W. Lengeman III - USA
"Dark Animus 5 - a transformative experience.
Dark Animus delivers another fine selection of horror and strangeness. This time around, there are some slipstream and science fictional tales, too, including Cory Daniells's "Cheating the Devil", which has a satisfying conclusion that's delightful in it's brevity, and William I Lengemann III's "Hardboiled" - a piece of noir that made me laugh out loud. In a completely different vein, the Sisyphan science fiction tale "The Beetle", by Michael John Woods, took some ten minutes after reading to realise its full impact, but left my skin crawling.
The horror tales this issue all explore transformation. If one of horror's great themes is fear of the other, then these explore what happens when you become the other, or the other becomes you. One kind of transformation is explored in Alinta Thornton's "Kathleen, Furnished with Bees", a redemptive tale about tackling the dark side of our own nature. "Puppet Graveyard" by George Higham and "The Puppeteer" by Tim Curran both examine puppetry as a descent into madness. The mental illness and control intertwine like puppet strings through both tales as they reach their conclusions. To my mind, "The Puppeteer" suffers from a protagonist who is too much like a puppet himself, which may have been intentional, but didn't give the story the kind of strength that Tim Curran's other Dark Animus outings have had. "True Love", by Nelson Stanley is a gruesome little piece, which nevertheless left me amused, as did "That Lump", by Samuel Low, with its creepy take on a familiar theme. "To die Dreaming", by Sam W Anderson and "Turning the Tables", by Tim Johnson didn't have quite the same emotional punch for me as the other stories in this issue, but both reward rereading. I even read the poetry, and surprised myself by enjoying them all.
I can't finish this review without mentioning the illustrations. In particular, the cover captures the essence of humour and depravity that Dark Animus encapsulates, and the internal artwork ranges from the simple to the sublime. Roll on Dark Animus 6!"
Z. Baxter - Australia
"Thanks for Issue #5. The artwork is great and the yarns are riveting. I hope the publication will be a successful and lasting venture. I look forward to reading more."
C. Fennell - Australia
"Got my contributor's copy today and I'm totally blown away by the quality of your publication. You were exactly right when you said the artwork for my story was dead on.
The few stories I got to read, I enjoyed very much. Now, if I can just pry the magazine from my wife, I'll finish the rest. But from her reaction (which kind of reminds me of that character from "Lord of the Rings" - precious, my precious), I know I'll enjoy it."
Sam W.Anderson - USA
"Sorry I didn't say earlier, but I got Dark Animus yesterday and spent much of the day with my nose in it. I read the Nelson Stanley story first because some of his stuff is great, but :-( I didn't like this piece. Both the puppet stories were very good, and the Samuel Low one was well strange. (clever placing of the pic btw). All in all a fine little read, with some very nice artwork!"
D - UK
The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #4.
"I'd just like to say that Issue 4 was great, as always, but I particularly liked the poetry in this issue. Emily Veinglory's poem "Seeing it Move" was excellent - really powerful. I think the combination of poetry and fiction is a real strength of Dark Animus. The the front cover was, in my opinion, the best yet."
Andrew Lyall - Australia
"This is one of the best independent mags out, imo."
Tanya Barker - Australia
"I received my copy. I am not a critic but I can comment on what I read. I feel that I should be more critical, but all the stories held my interest.
The writing was excellent, but I thought One Dark September Night was too long, I began to become fatigued by their youth. He told me too much. <Spoiler removed>. Spook is the most innovative with almost a surprise ending. This is my favourite. Curls of Fog is the weakest, This guy gets what he deserves in the fog. He is a real namby pamby. She is so idealized Sarah Teasdale could have written it. Now if this is a girl searching for a girl I could better understand the treatment or vice versa."
Robert Papsy - USA
"John Grover's 'Dark Song' reminded me of my ex-wife! (But I guess we've all dated that girl in some way, shape, or form!)"
Mike Donohoe - USA
" I received my latest issue of DA and it is outstanding as always - the cover art was just amazing ( I felt the same way about Cat Sparks cover for #3)."
Celia Coulter - Australia
"Just got the copy of DA#4 you sent. Thanks for that. I particularly liked Tim Curran's story, 'One Dark September Night ...'. He has a nice writing style."
"Firstly I thought that the cover was impressive and really quite eye-catching. In fact it looks a bit like something Hieronymous Bosch might have painted had he read Lovecraft (or even Davin Irelandâs poignant-but-never-preachy âSpookâ on which of course it was based).
I liked âFleshâ. While the concept of the monster luring its victims with hallucinatory images is not new, I thought that this started off very atmospherically before erupting into a totally unexpected slam-bang monster story that escalated at a cracking pace and had a completely satisfying denouement.
Mike Arnzenâs âFlunking the Assassinâ had me laughing out loud at one point, and John Groverâs story was a nice attempt to bring one of the creatures of myth up to date.
The artwork is good throughout as well, including the rather coy-looking living dead cat on page three, which raised a chuckle. Overall, if I had to think of a phrase to describe your magazine it would be something like ârefreshingly unpretentiousâ. Youâre managing to achieve a kind of modern pulp feel without the stories being either predictable or repetitive. I look forward to future issues.
Dr. John L. Probert - UK
"I also read a couple of short stories in DA #4 last night: the Tim Curran novella and 'Flesh'. Tim Curran does the whole teenage boy thing so well. His lakeside setting reminds me of Stephen King (not Derry, but the other little town in Bag of Bones), and he manages to communicate that whole 'local knowledge' thing so well. I hated what happened to the boys ... I really felt for them and wanted to join in more of their adventures, but that didn't stop me from reading and enjoying the piece. I wished it was longer; I was working on some of my own writing last night, and jumping between the two, but eventually couldn't put Curran's piece down.
'Flesh' I enjoyed too. The town reminded me of Marulan in the Southern Highlands (I lived in Bowral for 14 years), by-passed by the freeway, full of dilapidating shops and forgotten people and equally forgotten lives."
Amanda Markham - Australia
"I've finished reading DA4 and it's great. Especially loved the variety of stories. My faves were One Dark September Night and Flunking the Assassin. Also, the artwork throughout was superb. Regina Brewster's was my favourite, followed by Heesco Khosnaran, Russell Dickerson and Marcia Borell. There are some highly talented artists out there and you're assembling them all in one place. Full points to all the artists."
Darrell Pitt - Australia
"I am really enjoying Dark Animus and look forward to the new editions as they become available. I have already completely read Issue #4 and enjoyed every story in it. Only one problem, the magazine was too short! Bring on issue #5."
Elaine Shipp - Australia
"I believe that if you can't say anything nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. Well that aphorism has absolutely nothing to do with anything right now, because I have plenty to say about DA#4 - all of it good. I'd have to say that DA#4 is my favourite issue yet. The cover is just outstanding. Tim Curran's novella takes the cake, I think. The characterization in "One Dark September Night" is fantastic, and the chilling situation with the Dark Man is really imaginative and disturbing. John Grover's tale, "Dark Song," was a great story to start off the issue - I think John's tales are always fun. "Spook," by Davin Ireland, was an interesting take on the afterlife (it makes you think). Darrell Pitt's "Flesh" was quite bizarre, and quite good - very original (and twisted) thinking here. And Mike Arnzen's "Flunking the Assassin" allowed issue #4 to go out with a bang; it was a wonderfully amusing, and darkly humorous tale. All around, this issue is packed with great fiction and poetry that will not let you down. What's left to say? Except bring on DA#5! I've said it once and I'll say it again: subscribe!"
Tim Johnson - USA
"The cover art is an absolute knockout. I can honestly say that it's some of the best artwork to appear on the cover of an Australian magazine. Very impressive, James. Keep up the good work."
Darrell Pitt - Australia
"Iâm *stunned*. I mean, I donât wonât to go over the top and say itâs the best cover Iâve ever seen, but Iâve been wracking my brains for the last couple of hours trying to think of something comparable, and I have to stay Iâm stumped. This Flament HervĂ© chap is an absolute wizard. Which makes you an absolute wizard too for choosing him. . . .congratulations on a jaw-dropping cover. I still canât get over it!"
Davin Ireland - The Netherlands
The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #3.
" I finished reading issue three and I think that all the contributions were really top notch. Better than many I've read in other similar periodicals. I especially liked Curran's short story. Being from Wisconsin myself, I thought that for the most part his characters were right on. All except for one thing: the use of 'hey' at the end of our sentences isn't quite that profuse. I don't even think the back woods bumpkins use it quite that much. All in all I very much enjoyed that story as well as all of the other stories, illustrations, and poems. The mix of the three types of contributions makes Dark Animus a good read. Keep up the good work, hey."
Nic Scipior - USA
" Havenât had a chance to look through 3 properly yet but the cover is fantastic. Best yet easily. Reminds me of a scene from âThe Thingâ in which a guy gets his hands chewed off by a mouth thing that opens outta some other guyâs chest. Fantastic."
Guy Salvidge - Australia
"I also wanted to compliment you on DA#3. Since I last wrote, I actually got past the (fabulous) cover and read it. Great stuff! Josh's "Wood on Bone" was wonderful. He has a straightforward style like Darrell. I really liked it--and told him so on the HWA message boards. He was very excited about DA#3. You are doing a great job with DA. You should be proud!"
Lisa von Biela - USA
"I thought the quality of the fiction was very high...I especially liked The Inhabitant of Harrow House, but then I'm always kind of a sucker for a good haunted house tale. The last four stories were all quite dandy, as well."
William I. Lengeman III - USA"Just finished DA #3. Congratulations on another good issue, I enjoyed all the stories.
The highlights were "The Inhabitant of Harrow House" by Tim Curran - a tense, classic haunted house tale; "A Southern Gothic" by Gary Hernandez - the narrator's voice is just perfect; and "Wood on Bone" by Josh Rountree. I also liked the poem "Cure All" by Mark McLaughlin, with its creepy last lines."
Chris Barnes - Australia
"Just thought I'd drop you a line to let you know that I have really enjoyed Issue #3 of DA. It's the best so far.
As I read each story I became more engrossed. I'm not much of a poetry reader but found myself wanting to read the poems as every story and poem and picture meshed together into a greater whole.
'The Womb of the Night' was excellent. I don't usually enjoy vampire stories but this one was different and I found myself involved in the main character's journey.
'The Inhabitant of Harrow House' was great. Very atmospheric and I felt the ending was appropriate - no white knight vanquishing the wicked, which would have been expected in more mainstream fiction. I'm glad your artwork for the story wasn't near the beginning of the story to be a spoiler. Great pic by the way!
Cat Sparks' 'Gracelands' was a clever twist on the ghost story. Cat builds the story tension well. A very creepy story.
I'm going to look at my nightmares about teeth in a different light after reading Darrell Pitt's 'A Cardboard Sign and Pliers.' He has taken childhood fears (e.g. jumping over lines in footpaths) to a new extreme. I love the final image the reader is left with of an almost toothless man grinning madly. Sean Madden's art is fantastic for this story.
Mike Arnzen's short 'Mustachio Moon' was placed just right in the order of stories in the issue. Almost fairy tale-like in its telling. A grim tale.
The final story 'Wood on Bone' by Josh Rountree, is a revenge story unlike any I have read before. Josh conveys the movements of the character with clarity and I like the Karma aspects embedded in the story.
Overall a great, couldn't-put-down read. Dark Animus is coming into its stride.
PS. Thanks for the signed copy of Issue #3. Cat Sparks cover art is brilliant - grabs the eye and every time you look at it you see it in a new way."
Elaine Shipp - Australia
"Recieved issue 3 and devoured it from
cover to cover. It is of impressive quality and format, but what to
say of its contents?! Wood on Bone was a wicked delight, and the
imagery of gracelands was intoxicatingly creepy. A cardboard sign and
pliers, I perhaps shouldn't have read, it did nothing to satiate my
paranoia, I worry it inflicted a bit of madness upon me. A southern
gothic was horrendous and set me aghast. There was something
instinctive in that piece, something civility would fain to deny, it was all
to relatable. I could not help but find myself exclaiming "What
is wrong with these people!?" only to pick up the mag again. In a
few lines your poets are most potent in weaving whole nightmares from a few
words. I am very fond of The Tale of the Hideous Heidi, it had a
childlike horror, a playful macabre. The Chandelier by Mr. Arnzen was
exquisite; what a picture he paints! I've read and re-read that piece.
I must say I am also impressed with the artwork, it would seem many
publications pull illustrations from a bank of work, choosing one for semi-relevance;
but each piece in dark animus seemed particularly crafted to the writing,
and quite effectively at that. What an overall maddeningly macabre
publication you have, I can't get enough of it. Such a literary
treasure, I want to swallow it whole, or pound it upon my head, to keep it
Justin Josephnek Kloer - USA
"Dark Animus #3 proves what issue two suggested: Dark Animus is a magazine that truly gets better and better with each issue. Behind the striking cover are fantastic stories and poems. My personal favourite is a toss-up between Tim Curran's, 'The Inhabitant of Harrow House' and Darrell Pitt's, 'A Cardboard Sign and Pliers.' And I loved the artwork for both tales, very disturbing! I also really enjoyed 'Wood on Bone' and 'The Red Door.' I'm not the best judge of poetry, so I can't say too much about that. I remember reading the feedback on the site just before I decided to subscribe--helping me make my decision, I suppose. To anyone reading this with the same thought, do yourself a favour and subscribe to Dark Animus right away! Trust me, you will not be disappointed. All around, Dark Animus is one of my absolute favourites! GREAT!"
Tim Johnson - USA
"Lots of very powerful stuff in here - though some of it does occasionally run into purple prose - still that is really hard to avoid in this genre. I can't do it....this is why, even when I'm critical, I am still dead impressed. I liked the balance you have of 'straight' horror and psychological horror - DA isn't your average gore fest, it's more 'thinking persons horror'. I really like the illustrations too - esp. those by Dickerson and Les Peterson. I'm less keen on the poetry - but I think that is about me. . . . DA is a fun read, even for someone like me, who wouldn't naturally read horror unless it was classic eg Stoker or King. Keep up the good work . . . I really liked "Gracelands", and "Wood on Bone" and "The Womb of Night" (which did have a couple of purple prose bits in it). I also liked the teeth story ( I forget the name)."
Lucinda Bromfield - UK
"Thanks again for publishing my work in DARK ANIMUS -- the magazine keeps getting better and better and I'm happy to be a part of it. The writers you've got lined up are all top-notch and I loved the "mouth on the back/teeth on the floor" cover by Sean Madden . . . I'm still making my way through the contents, but everything I've read is knock-out."
Mike A.Arnzen - USA
"Well, all I can say is what I knew all along - DA is decidedly twisted! I like your taste as an editor, and DA#3 made for a great read! "A Cardboard Sign and Pliers" and "Wood on Bone" vie for my favorites..."
George Higham - USA
"The artwork for "Wood on Bone" was exceptional. Dickerson's art always impresses me."
Josh Rountree on the art for his story - USA
"Received my copy of DA#3 today. FABULOUS cover, and I see it is signed. Wow--each cover outdoes the last. And I thought Flesh & Blood had interesting covers. Great work! Can't wait to read it all!"
Lisa von Biela - USA
"I just received the No. 3 Issues of Dark Animus and it looks fantastic! The matt cover suits it much better than the gloss of the 1st Issue and the cover illustration is amazing - beautiful colours - chilling overtones. The contents match its professional appearance - a great publication! Congratulations. Many thanks for the opportunity to appear in it."
Regina Brewster - Australia
"DA #3. That cover is the best yet. Cat Sparks is amazingly talented. My God! I love it. Man, DA is going to overtake every other mag out there. Outstanding. Simply outstanding."
Tim Curran - USA
The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #2.
"I had a look at DA
today. It arrived first post, so as the family were under threat of death, they
woke me when it arrived. I started at 9.15 and stopped reading at 6.30 this
evening. As I said when I just started, I love
Sometimes, with a new short mag, they inspire you negatively, âI can do better than thatâ. Some amuse and some are just plain good. Occasionally: very occasionally, there is an illumination which touches the deepest chords of the imagination: One of those occasions that makes you say, âI am good, I know I am good, but one day I hope I will be able to write like thisâ.
Anyway as I say I have been reading it all day. I read Grahamâs Lolicia and he got me again. I scanned it mostly, to get a drift of the plot; then read it. I stopped at the last page and went through every scenario that I could think of as the final twist in the tail, but he got me again. I even spotted the opening when Jeff did not actually pull the trigger, but he put me off the scent far enough to think it was a double bluff. I opted for a high paid hit-hooker sent by the non-suicidal Jeff.
Well that took care of a couple of hours. I looked at Lament but could not get a passive reading out of it, so I put it down til this afternoon.
I have no idea what was in
Even though he has purged himself of this pain yet one more time, there is no catharsis, as it was not his hubris. He is trapped: condemned for life to live that pain every day. The ink of his razor nib is the blood of the pain that stabs his heart.
Doug Arnold - UK
"Thank you for sending out the first two editions of Dark Animus as part of my prize of a yearâs subscription to the magazine that I won through Aurealisxpress. I have enjoyed reading both the editions, especially #2 as it included âThe Phantom Touchâ by Chris Barnes, a fellow member of the Calliope writerâs group. It was great to see his story in print. The artwork is very appropriate for each story â some really good artists have contributed to these two editions. I particularly liked Sandy De Lucaâs art for Greg F Gifuneâs âSnow Angelsâ in # 1 and Russell Dickersonâs art for the poem âDeath of a Thousand Paper Cutsâ by Christina Sng in #2.
I enjoyed Robert Hoodâs âWriting on the Wallâ (#2), and Greg F Gifuneâs âSnow Angelsâ (#1) made my skin crawl (always a good thing in a horror story, I think). I loved âThe Baby Lotâ by Robert Swartwood (#1). It was a clever idea in a well written story."
Elaine Shipp - Australia
"I really enjoyed Graham Masterton's piece 'Lolicia' which was in Issue 2, as well as reading all the other stories from such a variety of writers."
Debra Findlay - Australia
"I just thought I would drop you a line about the second and superb issue of Dark Animus. Another really consistent publication. Graham Mastarton's story was a highlight as is most of his stuff."
Richard Niesche - Australia
"The great thing about this magazine is its air of professionalism and lavish attention to detail, which even extends to the stylish page numbers. One gets the impression that the editorial team really love what they're doing here. The stories are fun, disturbing and often refreshingly tongue-in-cheek. The other thing that impressed me is the sense of *integration* one gets from reading Dark Animus. The artwork is not there simply to punctuate or off-set the poetry and fiction, but to emphasise both in a way that further underscores the unique identity this mag is carving out for itself. Highly Recommended"
Davin Ireland - The Netherlands
"I enjoyed Dark Animus #2 a great deal -- thanks for sending me a gratis copy. The magazine does keep getting better and better. I loved the long Masterton story; dark and perverse (and I found myself thinking: "Oh, NOW I understand the cover art!"). The poetry was smart. Art was nice -- Borell's "Skeleton" piece was super. Good job all around. Looking forward to #3!"
Mike A.Arnzen - USA
"Finally finished DA2. I like. Highlight was probably Graham Masterton's "Lolicia" -- full on (spoilers omitted). Great concept from Chris Barnes, and Robert Hood's "Writing on the Wall" (which I would have loved to be a longer, more involving and intense story than it was) had the lovely nasty ending to give it the pay off. Christina Sng's poetry gets a big thumb up. Les Petersen (as always), Russell Dickerson and Sean Madden impressed in the art department. Keep it, James. I like this sort of shit!"
Paul Haines - Australia
"I really did like that illustration. I thought it was *perfect* for the story." (In reference to Scott Carpenter's illustration for his story)
Kevin L.Donihe (USA)
"But I *finally* finished DA2! DA1 was very good, but you're right, this one's stronger. And that's how it should be--just get better and better, not the other way around. Masterton's story was great! Very intense. (Spoilers omitted)
Little Green Men was hilarious--it had a great pace and rhythm about it. That Tim Curran is versatile. I'm still picturing the cow stuck in the side of the barn. I don't think I've read anything by him that I didn't like.
Writing on the Wall had a great twist at the end! . . . Phantom Touch is a nice, fresh treatment of ghosts! "
Lisa von Biela - USA
"Thanks for Dark Animus number 2. What can I say? Well done. It's a great product. Loved the stories."
Darrell Pitt - Australia
"Just wanted to let you know that I found Dark Animus #2 in my PO box today. I love Marcia Borell's artwork with my poem."
Nancy Purnell - USA
"I had a chance to read issue two and I really enjoyed it. My favorites this time were the stories by Tim Curran and Robert Hood. Keep up the good work."
Josh Rountree - USA
Congratulations on another good issue. It was a real thrill to have my first published story actually in my hand, and sharing pages with distinguished company like Graham Masterton and Robert Hood. Thanks again for accepting "Phantom Touch". I loved Marcia Borell's illustration for my story, it showed she had read and understood (and hopefully enjoyed) the piece.
I thought my own story stood up well in this strong company. The pick of the other stories for me were Paul Haines' story "Slice of Life" - grimly believable and compelling - and Grahma Masterton's "Lolicia", which was confronting and enjoyably twisted. Sean Madden's cover and the art by Les Peterson, Cat Sparks and Russell Dickerson were top quality as well."
Chris Barnes - Australia
"I received my copy of Dark Animus #2 yesterday. Great issue, have already read it cover-to-cover. Loved the cover illustration- it suits Graham Masterton's piece perfectly. "Lolicia" managed to disturb, repel and attract me all in the same breath!. However, I think that "Slice of Life" was probably my favourite, it grabbed my attention and kept me reading until the end. And "Writing on the Wall", which at first seemed just another "cult uses unsuspecting woman to bear demon spawn" type story, surprised me with its ending and made me take a second look. "Death of a thousand paper cuts" just blew me away - I also loved Russell Dickerson's illust. to accompany it. "
Celia Coulter - Australia
"I just felt that I had to send you a note - this is the nicest rejection I have ever had! I also wanted to tell you that I received issue #2 of Dark Animus today and devoured it in one sitting. I have loved both issues so far - keep up the great work, you should be very proud of it!"
Stephanie Gunn - Australia
"DA#2 arrived today and it is gorgeous! I love the layout and art on both my poems. Thank you!"
Christina Sng - Singapore
The following are extracts from letters received from readers of Dark Animus #1.
"Review of Dark Animus #1 submitted by reader from "Thorby St Writers group".
Dark Animus is a new Australian independent press horror 'zine put together by James Cain, who lives in Sydney's Blue Mountain district.
Soft White Underbelly, by Tim Curran
Soft white underbelly is disarmingly gripping for a tale about gangsters. Nicky Spiro and his boys are the toughs of little Athens. They rent out land and buildings, charge their interest and mind their business as gangsters do. When a man with a strange past rents one of their shopfronts and starts selling his cures to the locals, without paying the interest due on his loan, Nicky sends the boys around. Johnny Six, Frank and Fat Pete are there to rough up the man, an ex-sideshow freak. They get more than they bargained for -- sideshow freak doesn't know how to die, even though they bury the body. His will to live manifests in an unpredictable way, and I held my breath at several points, waiting to see what would happen. The writing is lush, suspenseful, erotically horrible in it's descriptions and full of sharp imagery.
Although Dark Animus' editor James Cain says in his editorial that he is after stories that defy genre, the sense of inevitability and "things beyond human ken" makes me want to place this story firmly into the horror genre - and it's full of the kind of gross-out moments every inventive horror story should have. Good stuff.
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by Robert-James Barker
There's a line in the first paragraph of Portrait of the Artist that had me laughing, perhaps unwittingly. "I forget where I left things, scissors, coffee cups, body parts and the like." Unfortunately, it also highlights one of the flaws of the story. Throughout the piece, the author has a tendency to carry the reader up to high notes, and then bring them down rather than leaving them dizzy. It could be the mark of a relatively new author, but I think the story would have benefited from an additional polish with an eye to sustaining its high points.
An old man lives alone in a house with a room filled with bones, his "madness made form". The tale itself is a familiar one, told with a twist. A young couple come knocking at the door, looking for a phone because their car has broken down (natch), and although the old man doesn't have a phone, he offers them beds for the night. The young couple are more than they seem, but so are the old man and his house, and when couple combat couple, the result isn't in much doubt. Age and cunning versus youth and beauty (and cunning). Despite some lovely imagery, particularly toward the ending, this one left me cold.
Friday's Gift, by Brian Scott Lingard
Telecommuter and independent software contractor, Rodregis works with virtual worlds, but when his cat brings home something not entirely unlike a fairy, he starts to wonder where his fantasy and reality cross over. Alas, the fairies are nothing to do with the worlds he's creating, and in the end, it just seems like a convenient coincidence. The fairies are all too prosaic, as is the story. Shame. Workmanlike prose, but the characters never really stand out, and it's all a bit predictable.
Snow Angels, by Greg F.Gifune
Steve's been away from his estranged wife and only child, Bethany, for two years. He knows he won't be welcomed by his ex-wife, but his daughter is one of the things he deeply cares about in this world, so he's coming home for Christmas to see her. So far, so mundane, there are few hints at the beginning that this will turn out darkly, despite it being in Dark Animus, but the first stop in his hometown isn't his ex-wife's place, but instead his friend Bobby's house. In an abrupt segue from the mundane to the fantastical, it turns out Steve saw something nasty in the forest two years ago, and that triggered his leaving, not just his wife. Once past the slightly disorienting change of pace, however, the story rips into it's descent into madness. The horrors in the forest two years ago haven't left his memory, and there's a resolution for the events of that day too. The small town with a secret is a well worn trope, but Greg handles it very well, with strong characters and a crescendo ending.
The Three Faces of Ever, by Brendan Duffy
What starts out as a fairly typical junkie story, albeit one with poetic sensibilities, swiftly turns and changes direction. Unlike the change in direction for Snow Angels, however, this one is subtle, and the slow realisation of what is really happening is chilling. The unnamed entity that rides within the unnamed protagonists body is a mix of heady innocence, and alien knowledge -- a highlight is when the two piss against the wall, like a dog would, just to show they've been there. The story is a wild ride, and very emotive, pulling the reader along joyously, until the dark, bitter revelation, and cold ending.
The Baby Lot, by Robert Swartwood
The Baby Lot is an ugly twisted little tale. Sharp, pointed and nicely ended. Just like a sharp spade. That's all I'm going to say about this one.
Zara Baxter - Australia
"Just to let you know that I received the fist issue of Dark Animus yesterday - I read a bit last night and there were some great stories, so thanks for getting the whole thing going. The art work was really good - loved the front cover."
Andrew Lyall - Australia
"Thanks for the issue, James. Loved the cover. Just read the first story so far, but was blown away. "Soft White Underbelly" kicked ass. Would have made a great movie, along the lines of "Reanimator". Will give you further feedback once I get a couple of hours uninterrupted reading time this week. Keep up the good work."
Steve Vernon - Small Press Insider
"Received and read D.A. thanks. Very impressed. I liked Brendan Duffy's story best, although they were all good. A high standard that I hope you will keep up . . . D.A is exactly what it says it is... gritty horror . . . . Love it."
Tony Plank - Australia
"Thank you for the magazine you had sent me, I really enjoyed it, and I thought it was great, Keep it coming :) you are doing a really good job, and the stories in it were just fantastic, my favourite was Friday's Can't remember the rest of the title, but I loved the story about the fairies, it was great, I just wished it could have gone on longer, the entire magazine was a blast."
Nic Rosaman - UK
"Looking forward to my subscription . . . I also wished to compliment you on your artwork for "The Baby Lot", which I found particularly striking."
George Higham - USA
"Hey James, great first issue! Some nice horror pieces. My favorites were Snow Angels, Soft White Underbelly and Brendan Duffy's Three Faces of Ever. Keep up the good work!"
Ben Payne - Australia
Yeh! I love it! It's easily one of the best small press magazines I've read so far. I really like that the art is based on the story or poem it appears with. Tim Curran is an excellent writer. I've never heard of him before. I knew that Brian Lingard does Black Satellite but I didn't know he wrote too. His story was cool too. I had a cat who did something like that one night too except it wasn't fairies it was crawdads. Maybe I should keep an eye out for vengeful crawdads :)"
James Reynolds - USA
"Great mag, James R. Cain! Thanks for sending DARK ANIMUS #1. Read it straight through. Awesome stuff. This is what good, fun, dark reading is all about, in my opinion... great stories with plenty of action and originality, tendering no apologies. Love the cover, the artwork, and many of the stories. Can't comment on the poetry, as poetry honestly leaves me a bit flat in most cases.
My favorite stories were "Soft White Underbelly" and "Snow Angels." Great, both of them. I'm developing a taste for Tim Curran's stuff. We both had stories in SONGS FROM DEAD SINGERS, and I've also read him in WICKED HOLLOW. His similes are the best going.
Thanks again for sending. It was a lot of fun. I'll spread the word. "
John Dixon - USA
"I received and read DA 1 yesterday, and was impressed with the quality of the work therein. One story in particular, "The Three Faces of Ever" by Brendan Duffy, contains some of the best prose I have read in a magazine in a long time. That is definitely a literary story, at least to my thinking. I notice he has no link on your page, doesn't appear to be part of the small press circuit to the extent that many of the other contributors are. If you have this guy's email, please forward it to me so that I can send him a piece of fan mail! I think this story is that good. And the rest of the issue was good too if not brilliant, I quite liked "Soft White Underbelly" (probably the centrepiece of the issue from a horror perspective?). Another story, "Friday's Gift" is very reminiscent of a Philip K Dick story called "The King of the Elves" in which a guy called Shadrach Jones participates in a war between little trolls and elves from his farmhouse."
Guy Salvidge - Australia
"I was just writing to let you know that I really enjoyed the magazine. I was impressed by the overall professional quality and particularly liked the poetry and Snow Angels by Greg F. Gifune. The many illustrations also help to bring the stories alive. Can't wait for the next one. Happy Xmas and all that."
Richard Niesche - Australia
I'm rather detail-oriented (just ask anyone in the Writing Workshop!!), so here goes:
Overall, as I mentioned before I left, the "look and feel" of the magazine is great. I like the textured, color cover. Cool illo on it, too! The print is nice and clean-looking. The price/number of pages seems well-balanced in comparison to other mags.
I won't comment on the poetry. I'm just not that into poetry, no slight against any of it. It's just not my thing. But all the magazines of this type carry it, so there surely is an audience.
The artwork is interesting, and what makes it different than most is that in some cases, there were multiple pieces of art that "followed" the storyline, without giving the ending away! That was a unique twist. Most other mags I have seen either have one piece of art for a story at the beginning and that's it, or there is art interspersed that isn't related to the stories, is there on its own.
As for the stories, your goals match mine. Per your editorial, you want to publish stories that "enslave" the reader--yep, that's what I want to read (and write). I just love it when a story traps me into turning the pages until it's done!
Soft White Underbelly
This was one of my two favourites in this issue. Very strong. Vivid characters, well-written. A story I could not put down, each page compelled me to the next. Yes, it was a "revenge" story, but with some very imaginative twists. I was smelling and hearing everything along with the POV character. Very visual, great descriptions. Great ending!
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
This was also quite imaginative. I like the way it turned my expectations on their ear. Started out thinking the young couple was going to do harm to the old man, but things took a serious twist from there on. The transformations (of both the POV character and the couple) were well done, and the ending leaves you wondering what he's going to do next. Will he leave the house and find others to transform for his gallery? However, I did notice a number of typos in this one. Misplaced commas, quotes, things like that. I'm not sure how much editors typically run through and correct these things on manuscripts, but I think it would be worth doing. Don't want to detract from the overall quality of the magazine with things like this. (I have an eagle eye for these things; I find them even in books from major publishers!!)
This one didn't feel as strong as the others. The writing style seemed less polished to me. It also had some punctuation typos in it. This one just didn't draw me in as much. The setup was fine, but perhaps he could have taken it further. Don't know much about the fairies, except that they're fairies and wanted revenge for the cat's killings. Can't blame them for that! Maybe more buildup, more interaction with the fairies somehow before the revenge is completed?
This one's the other of my two favorites from this issue. I've actually read a fair amount of Greg's work. He does a really nice job with atmosphere and description. Nice description of what's going on in the POV character's head. Great use of flashback and a hell of an ending!
The Three Faces of Ever
I was kind of torn on this one. In some ways, I liked it, and in some ways, not. The fragmented sentences may have been a little overdone. But on the other hand, it did make me think, the concept of the drug being like another person within the POV character. May have just been a style thing.
The Baby Lot
The brevity of this one gave it a stronger punch, I think. It presented the situation, then had the interaction of the POV character and his baby son at the end to increase the impact. I liked this one. Great atmosphere, vivid. Nice weird concept. The only thing is that I was also reading "Pet Sematary" on my trip, and there was some rising from the grave going on in there, too. So I felt a little overlap--just coincidence, though.
Again, overall I enjoyed the issue, and I look forward to the next one!"
Lisa von Biela - USA
"Just finished DA1. An excellent read.
Best three stories: Brendan Duffy's 'The Three Faces Of Ever'. Greg Gifune's 'Snow Angels', and RJ Barker's 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. Great writing and interesting stories. Impressed with Greg's story -- nice and hard.
I enjoyed Tim Curran's piece, though the number of similes describing a rotten smell began to intrude on the story. He uses far too many and always for the same thing. Otherwise fine, it reminded me a little of Stephen King's 'Gray Matter'. (the decomposition of the victim).
Swarthood's 'The Baby Lot' was nice and weird (though I don't think I got it).
The only piece I felt was weak was Lingard's 'Fridays' Gift'. It was overwritten (ie he tells you something then shows you it) and didn't surprise, shock or really do anything to me.
I'm not much of a fan of poetry but I enjoyed Michael Anrzen's dark pieces. Nice imagery.
As for the pics, well, I didn't think much of them. The only ones that grabbed me were the artists Nathan Brown and James R Cain -- and that ain't an arselick. (Though Bev Grazier's piece was okay). .... Great cover from Les, goes without saying really.
And that's the honest opinion"
Paul Haines - Australia
"Nicely put together. yes, the cover is dark, but if you hold it up to a bright light -- it sort of glows -- very cool! my favourite stories are 'Soft White Underbelly' by Tim Curran, 'Snow Angels 'by Greg Gifune, & The Three Faces of Ever by Brendan Duffy. My favourite poems are Kevin L. Donihe's 'Skin Deep' & Michael Arnzen's 'Bone Cancer'. a wonderfully eclectic mix of artwork. looking forward to the next issue."
Nancy Purnell - USA
"All in all, I really enjoyed the issue. In particular, I thought the Greg Gifune story was terrific. He's an author that I've heard a lot about, but this is the first story I've read of his. I'll be seeking out more. The Brendan Duffy tale was cool and surreal and the Tim Curran story was nice and gritty. This was a solid first issue and I'm looking forward to more. This looks like a great magazine, and I'll keep trying to place a story with you. I'll be in good company if I do."
Rountree - USA
"Let me just say, this is a VERY impressive debut. I didn't know what to expect (you never know what to expect from new publishers) but DARK ANIMUS is probably one of the best small press magazines I've seen in awhile. The fiction, the poetry, the artwork and even the layout -- it all looks great, very professionally done. All I can say is that I'm honored to be a part of it. Can't wait to see more!"
Robert Swartwood - Senior
Editor, Flesh & Blood USA
"Just wanted to say that I've enjoyed issue one of Dark Animus very much. Tim Curran's "Soft White Underbelly" was a great choice for the first story; it has a classic pulp fiction feel to it. Brendan Duffy's "The Three Faces of Ever" is a cracker, it's a wonderful take on heroin addiction. Looking forward to issue 2."
"I have received the first issue of Dark Animus and I am impressed. It's a great little publication. I loved the artwork (especially Scott Carpenter and Sandy de Luca) and the cover is a blow out! Full points to all the artists! I really enjoyed the range of stories. You said to 'expect the unexpected' in your editorial, and you were right. I particularly liked 'The Three Faces of Ever' and 'Snow Angels'. I can see that with this sort of quality Dark Animus is going to make its mark in a big way in the world of publishing. Criticisms? Hmm. You are probably already aware that the cover printed a little dark, but it still looked great. I did wonder if you might want to have a 'Mature Readers' logo on the cover. I know you have a warning on the first page, but it may encourage more readers!"
Darrell Pitt - Australia
"Well, congratulations of the first issue, It's great! I've read it cover to cover. Fantastic. High points for me were Portrait of the artist. Whoa! What a bizarre story. Also, I loved the feel of Soft white underbelly. Very gangster. Great. Also, Sandy De Luca's artwork, particularly for Bone cancer. It was brilliant. It looked a little like a drawing of a drawing, with a weird flatness to it like it was a drawing of a tattoo on someone's arm. Also I liked her illo for Incoming, fantastic eyes, hair and expression, although I thought the lips needed slightly more resolution. I didn't quite understand suicidiot... All in all, a fantastic read with great artwork. You must be really pleased with it!"
Brendan Duffy - Australia
"Got my copies yesterday. Very good. I like. I love all the artwork in there. Your illo for "The Baby Lot" was excellent. Speaking of which...what a nasty, disturbing story that was. Perfect way to end the issue. Greg's story "Snow Angels" was very good. I love it. I like a story where the reverberations of some historical atrocity still are being felt today. Brendan Duffy writes some very stark, surrealistic stuff. Brian Lingard's story was pretty good, too. Personally, though, if my cat brought fairies home I'd be selling the suckers out on Ebay.
Poetry? I'm not much of a judge of that. "Incoming" by Nancy Purnell was good, though. It has a lot to say about the shit you have to put up with in the working world...metaphorically sucking dick. That was good. Michael Arnzen's stuff was mostly beyond me, though. I think Bone Cancer was about smoking, but I'm not sure. But I'm a slave to nicotine so I think everything's about smoking. All in all, Jamie, a really wonderful mag. You should be very proud. I am. And who's this Tim Curran guy? Now he's good. I got so excited reading his story that I wanted to rush out and have sex with him...then I realized I was him, so I did just that...Great Job!"
Tim Curran - USA
"Just got home from the post office with the premier of DARK ANIMUS. Looks FANTASTIC! Love the cover; this feels like a quality production in my hands. I've only skimmed the book, but I love the layout and the look of the thing. So nice to see poetry illustrated well. And, of course, that illo for "Scream 6" takes the grand prize! WOW! It's so good I want to get it framed. Send my kudos to Marcia Borell. .... I just wanted to send my applause across the seven seas... can you hear it? I'm clapping awfully loud over here! Encore! I look forward to reading the rest."
Mike A.Arnzen - USA
"Good feel, nice paper, clearly a small-press publication but not "cheap and nasty". I find that more appealing, frankly :) And the cover is going to be durable, which is a huge plus!
I've read the first two stories and thoroughly enjoyed both. Man, it's so nice to read fiction with BALLS again - I think my recent diet of hard-boiled detectives (Michael Connoly) and forensic novels (Kathy Reichs) has made me a bit soft. I'd forgotten what "gritty" really meant. ... So, I'm very glad I've subscribed :-)"
Gwydion Elderwyn - Australia
Got my copy, liked it - esp. the pictures!
Lucinda - UK
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