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Dread Central Joins Boycott of Dorchester Publishing

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There was a time when the name Leisure Books was synonymous with horror novels. When it came to mass market paperbacks, Leisure ruled the horror world. Authors like Ed Lee, Craig Spector, Brian Keene, Richard Laymon, Graham Masterton, Jack Ketchum, and even Stephen King have published with Leisure, which was owned by Dorchester Publishing.

Horror Author Brian KeeneUnder other lines Dorchester publishes romance, thrillers, westerns – you name it. However, in 2009 things began to go sideways at Dorchester. Within months the company as it was known was gone: sales and editorial staff fired, reports of shipments to stores and authors delayed, creditors piling up along with unpaid royalties to authors.

In mid-2010 Brian Keene (pictured right; Ghoul, The Rising, Urban Gothic) forged a deal with the company for the return of all publishing rights to his work in return for the forgiveness of all money owed to him by Dorchester. This was the first truly serious sign of trouble heard in public.

Skip ahead to early 2011. Dorchester Publishing has reinvented itself as a strictly-digital publisher of e-books. The plan is to dive into the new era of publishing and drag itself out of financial trouble. 2011 saw many of its titles released in e-book format for many different devices.

Problem is, Dorchester doesn’t own all of the titles it continues to sell, including several of Keene’s titles. Keene, a very open voice on the Internet, raised a ruckus. Many other authors spoke up, relating similar circumstances of stolen work, unauthorized e-books, unpaid royalties, and rights held hostage.

This month Keene organized a movement to boycott Dorchester. A hashtag on Twitter and a Facebook group later, over 200 professional authors and over 10,000 consumers have joined the boycott.

Boycott Dorchester PublishingDread Central is now announcing that we are joining this boycott.

We cannot sit by and allow a company to directly harm the industry and genre that we love and support. As one of the few large horror sites to cover horror novels, we’d be ethically repugnant if we supported Dorchester’s efforts to profit off the work of Keene and others illegally and immorally.

We will no longer cover Dorchester’s releases. We will not review them or post news about them. Until and unless Dorchester comes out of this dark time and makes things right with its authors, we’re done with them and strongly encourage the horror community to join us. Don’t buy Dorchester/Leisure books, not even discount books in a clearance bin at Wal-Mart. Definitely do not buy any Dorchester e-books or download any ‘free’ e-books. (Yes, Dorchester has been releasing free e-books from some authors without authority.)

Some names in the horror genre that are already supporting the boycott are Craig Spector, J.F. Gonzalez, F. Paul Wilson, and Christopher Golden. A full list (as of 3/25) can be found here.

Dorchester has responded through Publishers Weekly as follows:

Dorchester CEO Bob Anthony and senior editor Chris Keeslar said they understood Keene’s frustration but said they are also frustrated by the situation. Anthony said the call for a boycott is “truly regrettable and not necessary to get our attention, since he has our attention.” According to Anthony, after being notified by Keene that some sites had been selling e-books for which Dorchester had reverted the rights back to Keene, Dorchester sent suppression notices to the vendors. After Keene reported that some sites were still selling the e-books, Anthony said they sent another suppression letter telling the vendors they expected the e-books to be removed from sale. “We expected the vendors to act accordingly,” Anthony said, adding that “we respect the right of reversion.”

Anthony acknowledged that in rebuilding Dorchester the company has had to “prioritize its cash flow.” This has resulted in not all authors being paid the money they are owed and that Dorchester had committed to pay when Anthony took over from John Prebich last November. “All authors will be paid in full,” Anthony vowed. The Keene controversy has been a setback to Dorchester’s turnaround efforts, but Keeslar said Dorchester is committed to rebuilding.

Keene, on his official website, fired back:

Here’s the thing, Bob. This keeps happening repeatedly, despite your assurances of sending “suppression notices” and despite your expectations that your “vendors act accordingly.” For three months, I’ve been asking for an explanation of why it keeps happening. I’ve yet to receive one. So despite your claim, I don’t think I’ve had your attention. I don’t think any of your authors have. But we do now.

A great breakdown of everything that’s happened so far with this drama can be found on Making Light.

We’ll continue to follow the Dorchester story and report any important changes as they happen. Hopefully, the continued public pressure on the company will force them to repent and make things right with the authors that built their company. At that time you’ll see Dorchester/Leisure news and reviews here again. Until then, stay tuned to Dread Central for news and reviews of horror books from all other publishers!

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Superheroes You Never Realized Battled Xenomorphs

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Though horror movie fans haven’t gotten an outstanding franchise crossover battle since 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason, superhero movies have been at the forefront of bringing disparate characters together for some serious carnage. Upcoming films like The New Mutants and Spawn are courting horror fans by promising suspense and violence (refusing to shy away from previously taboo R ratings), but many don’t realize comics have been delivering terrifying crossovers featuring some of our favorite villains for years.

With the pending sale of 20th Century Fox to Disney, the future of the Alien franchise has been called into question. Though we may never learn the fates of characters introduced in 2017’s Alien: Covenant, horror and sci-fi fans might want to explore the vast universe unfurled in numerous comics and graphic novels. Not only do they delve into the lives of characters only briefly seen in films, you can find some unexpected crossovers that make Alien vs. Predator seem uninspired.

Superman and Batman are just the two most famous superheroes who have gone toe-to-toe with Xenomorphs in comics. Keep reading for a detailed summary of Alien franchise crossovers in comics.


Superman vs. Aliens

The Man of Steel first crossed paths with Alien’s titular extraterrestrials in a 3-episode series from Dark Horse Comics. Written and illustrated by Dan Jurgens, Superman vs. Aliens ran from July through September 1995. The story found Superman lamenting his isolation when a signal from deep space renewed hopes that there may be other survivors of Krypton’s apocalypse.

His hopes are dashed, however, when he arrives at the decimated city of Argo, where a Xenomorph infestation has wiped out the once-thriving community. Deprived of the powers he receives from Earth’s yellow Sun, Superman must face the Alien Queen while seeking a cure for the Xenomorph embryo growing inside him!

The Kryptonian would battle these fearsome foes again in Superman vs. Aliens II: God War in 2002; the 4-episode series from Dark Horse was written by Chuck Dixon and illustrated Jon Bogdanove. This time, Superman comes to the rescue when a renegade ship full of Xenomorphs crashes into the homeworld of The New Gods. In this series, Superman’s commitment to protecting all life is challenged, as he contemplates finding a suitable planet for the Alien Queen.


Batman vs. Aliens

Dark Horse released Batman/Aliens as a 2-part series in 1997; it was written by Ron Marz and illustrated and inked by Bernie Wrightson. The Caped Crusader uncovers a Xenomorph threat while investigating Mayan ruins, leading to a confrontation unlike anything Batman’s ever faced before. The clash continued in 2002’s Batman/Aliens II, a 3-part series written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by Staz Johnson.

This time, the Xenomorph plague hits Gotham, when a sealed vault reveals unsettling artifacts from a doomed mission to the South Pole. Mayhem reigns when face-huggers invade Arkham Asylum, where Batman must contend with a shadowy black-ops agency in addition to the relentless decimation caused by the Aliens.


Green Lantern vs. Aliens

Green Lantern versus Aliens (2000) is actually a continuation of a series that saw several iconic superheroes battling Predator’s intergalactic bounty hunters—but that’s a story for another article! This 4-issues series (also from Dark Horse and written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Rick Leonardi) kicks off with a never-before-told chapter in the story of Hal Jordan, widely considered the greatest of those to have carried the Green Lantern mantle.

Jordan’s decision to contain rather than destroy the Xenomorph threat will haunt his predecessor, Kyle Rayner, who joins a group of former Green Lantern Corps members to rescue residents of a planet overrun by Aliens. Ultimately, he must face the Alien Queen while struggling with the ethical consequences of annihilating an entire species, no matter how insidious it is—the same conundrum that tortured Jordan.


Judge Dredd vs. Aliens

In 2003, the Xenomorph plague hit Mega-One City hard in the 4-issue series Judge Dredd versus Aliens: Incubus, a collaboration between Dark Horse and Rebellion Developments; it was written by John Wagner and Andy Diggle and illustrated and inked by Henry Flint.

When the Alien threat emerges, Dredd first suspects there’s a connection to an underground fighting circuit, but this case will force him to seek the very origins of the nefarious species. In addition to protecting the residents of Mega-One, Dredd must also contend with an embryo growing inside him.


Others vs. Aliens

Other unexpected Alien crossovers that took place in comics worth mentioning include Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In Space No One Can Hear You Slay! Courtesy of (you guessed it) Dark Horse and released in 2012, an ill-advised “spacecation” finds Sunnydale’s savior facing off against the galaxy’s greatest scourge. The species’ acid-blood makes Buffy’s usual method of dispatch uniquely problematic!

Back in 1998, the WildC.A.T.s crossed paths with horror fans’ favorite E.T.’s after an outer space escape pod crash lands in New York City. With StormWatch out of commission, the remaining team must rally all their resources to defeat an unprecedented threat in WildC.A.T.s/Aliens, a one-off first published by Image Comics, and later picked up by Dark Horse.

Perhaps the most bizarre matchup occurred in 2012 when Vampirella battled Xenomorphs in a whopping 6-episode series published simultaneously in digital format by Comixology, Dynamite Digital, iVerse and (of course) Dark Horse Digital. Aliens/Vampirella takes place on Mars and also includes an ancient race of Martian warriors.

As creative minds and artists continue to collaborate, we can expect many more unexpected crossovers in the years to come. Whether any of these comic book match-ups featuring Xenomorphs ever come to fruition in the form of feature films, however, remains to be seen (though it seems unlikely).

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Jesper Kyd Returning to Score Vermintide 2

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From the cover of Kyd's first Vermintide OST

Get your headphones ready, Warhammer fans because State of Decay and Darksiders 2 composer Jesper Kyd is back to score the upcoming Warhammer title Vermintide 2! The game will be coming to PC and consoles early this year.

Kyd was inspired by Norse mythology, utilizing ancient tribal music as well as dark fantastical elements to build upon the acoustic soundscapes he composed for the first Vermintide game. Channeling his own Scandinavian roots, Kyd will blend Viking and Norse-inspired vocals with ritualistic percussion styles to create a unique soundtrack experience.

Three tracks from the score can be heard below.

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Like Me – Will You Like This Dystopian Thriller?

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Starring Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden

Directed by Robert Mockler


While Like Me is not dystopian in the classic science-fiction sense, it does aptly put the downer vibe across. If the present is abysmal, then the future is downright hopeless. We learn this as we follow an unhinged teenage loner called Kiya (Addison Timlin) on a hollow crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. At first the world “likes” her—with the exception of YouTube rival Burt (Ian Nelson), who disdainfully denounces her viral videos—but pride goes before the fall, and Kiya’s descent is spectacular.

If you’ve peeped the trailer for Like Me, then you’re probably expecting a horror movie. I mean, they’ve got the requisite menacing masked baddie and they’ve got genre icon Larry Fessenden in a major role—those are a couple of the key ingredients, right? Yes they are, but this simmering, shimmering stew of Natural Born Killers, Excision and King Kelly, it boils down to a whole lotta nothing. Like Me is sort of a drama, kind of a road trip flick, and almost a thriller. It succeeds at none yet does stand on its own as a compelling collection of cool visuals and pertinent performances. But is that enough?

While Kiya is a compelling character on the surface, there’s barebones beneath. Sure, she’s a Millennial mind-fed on random online clips and snappy soundbites—but what turned her into a psychopath? Was she born that way? Is social media to blame? We’ll never know, because not a hint is given. I don’t mind ambiguity, but even a morsel would have been welcome in this case. As Kiya ramps up her reckless exhibitionistic extremes, the stakes are never raised. In the end, who cares? Maybe that’s the point.

A word of warning: If you plan on watching this movie while chomping snacks…don’t. There is stomach-turning scene after vomit-inducing scene of orgiastic easting, binging, and the inevitable purging. I’m sure it’s all metaphorical mastication, a cutting comment on disposable consumption. I get it. But I don’t wanna look at it, again and again and again. Having said that, Like Me is an experimental film and in its presentation of such grotesquery, it’s quite accomplished. Montages, split-screens and jittered motions are scattered throughout, showing us all sorts of unpleasant things…Kudos to the editor.

I didn’t hate Like Me. But I do think one has to be in the mood for a movie such as this. It’s not an easy or entertaining watch, but it is a peculiar and thought-provoking one. There’s some style and mastery behind the camera, and I am curious to see what first-time writer-director Rob Mockler comes up with next.

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