Archive for Occult Detective Awards

The 2014 Occult Detective Awards: Fiction

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2015 by Occult Detective

5thawardsDay two of the 5th Annual Occult Detective Awards finds us looking into the senses-shattering world of horror fiction. I tend to read a lot. Not as much as some, but a helluva lot more than most. I made it through more than 80 works this year (fiction and non-fiction combined) but picking out the best of the lot is never easy. You’ll recognize some familiar names in the following list. Why? Because when you do right by me, I revisit the well. Great storytellers are hard to come by. Write a story that captures my imagination and I’ll be back for more.

Best Novel
Revival by Stephen King

King releases his inner Lovecraft in this superb tale of loss and madness. Disquieting, there is an almost infinite sadness in Revival that bears down on you. King is a master of character and you’ll find a rich tapestry of such within. As for the story itself, well, it certainly went places I wasn’t expecting, especially in the novel’s final pages.

Best Novella
The Last of the Albatwitches by Brian Keene

I am unabashedly a huge fan of Keene’s Levi Stoltzfus. Invoking the spirit of the late, great Manly Wade Wellman, Keene has delivered another tense thriller featuring everyone’s favorite ex-Amish occult detective by taking a local folk tradition and dialing it up to 11. Why? Because that’s what Keene does and he does it well.

Best Collection
The Nickronomicon by Nick Mamatas

One of the things I love about Mamatas is that he’s a literary chameleon and with this collection of Mythos tales he gets to showcase this talent in strange, perverse, and subversive ways. Mamatas is always fresh and innovative, and The Nickronomicon finds him at his neoteric finest. With a knack for seeing not only the man behind the curtain, but also the ghost inside the machine, Mamatas is able to take the reader on a surrealistic ride through chimerical and apocryphal nightmares like few others.

Best Anthology
The Weiser Book of Horror and the Occult, edited by Lon Milo DuQuette

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better assemblage  of esoteric tales. Featuring 15 masterpieces of occult fiction from such notable authors as M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley, Arthur Machen, and more, this is an anthology I’ve already earmarked to be a Hallowe’en staple.

Best Short Story
“Bedlam in Yellow” by William Meikle (In the Court of the Yellow King, edited by Glynn Owen Barrass)

In the Court of the Yellow King is a brilliant Mythos anthology, but “Bedlam in Yellow” shines just a little bit brighter because Meikle does the unthinkable by writing a Carnacki tale that rivals Hodgson’s original stories. A neo-pulpist, Meikle is a consistent and reliable storyteller, regardless of genre, but he really sings when he delves into occult detective thrillers.

The 2014 Occult Detective Awards: Comics

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags on January 1, 2015 by Occult Detective

5thawardsWelcome to the 5th Annual Occult Detective Awards in which I share a few of my favorite things and hopefully turn you on to something you might have missed. I could bore you with a lot of flavorful text, but that’s not why you’re here. You want to know what struck my fancy this year and I want to cough up the goods. So let’s get down to it, shall we…

This year we’re starting off in the world of four colours and I’ve got a lucky little list of thirteen for you.

13. Adventure TimeBoom! Studios, written by Ryan North and illustrated by Shelli Paroline & Braden Lam

I could wax poetical about how mathmatical Adventure Time is, but c’mon… it’s Adventure Time. Do I really need to say more than that?

12. The DevilersDynamite Studios, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Matt Triano

Seven exorcists versus the armies of Hell in seven issues? Doesn’t get much better than this…

11. Autumnlands: Tooth and ClawImage Comics, written by Kurt Busiek and illustrated by Ben Dewey

Being equal parts Kamandi and Conan, with a bit of Game of Thrones for good measure, Autumnlands is a thrilling anthropomorphic fantasy that’s got everything a sword and sorcery fan could want.

10. The Sixth GunOni Press, written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt

There are few things cooler than a weird western, and this one packs one helluva supernatural punch.

9. The October FactionIDW Publishing, written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Damien Worm

What do you get when you toss a retired monster hunter, a thrill-killer, a warlock, and a witch under one roof? Deliciously macabre mayhem, courtesy of the Allan Family.

8. WytchesImage Comics, written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by JOCK

Thousands have died protecting their secret. Even more have died for having discovered it. Yeah… this is a damn good one.

7. FataleImage Comics, written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Sean Phillips

Supernatural Noir. Those two words are description enough. If you passed over this series, you should be ashamed of yourself.

6. RagnarokIDW Publishing, written and drawn by Walt Simonson

It’s three hundred years after the Twilight of the Gods and guess who’s coming to dinner. Look, this book had me at Walt Simonson.

5. Thor: God of ThunderMarvel Comics, written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic

An epic run by a creative team that understood all too well the majesty and otherworldy nature of the Thunder God and brought the Realm Eternal to life like few others.

4. Afterlife with ArchieArchie Comics, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla

Having grown up with the Riverdale Gang, to see this fresh, zombie-infused take on Archie and Company was just what this occult detective needed to satisfy two thirsts — nostalgia and blood.

3. King Conan: The ConquerorDark Horse Comics, written by Tim Truman and illustrated by Tomas Giorello

Wrapping up their brilliant adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Hour of the Dragon, Truman and Giorello cemented themselves as the 21st century’s premiere storytellers of the Hyborian Age.

2. The Sandman: OvertureVertigo Comics, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by JH Williams III

Surreal and hypnagogic, Williams’ psychedelic images are the perfect compliment to the fantastical prose of the mythweaving Gaiman. A sublime treasure to revisit a world I feared had been tucked away forever.

1. The Chilling Adventures of SabrinaArchie Comics, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Robert Hack

Aguirre-Sacasa and Archie Comics strike again, this time breathing horrific life into Sabrina the Teenage Witch by conjuring up a little of that old black eldritch magic courtesy of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. It’s a match made in… well, Hell, I suppose.

With that being said, it should come as no surprise that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa gets my vote for writer of the year and I’ve got to tip my hat to Archie Comics as publisher of the year as well. What they’ve done with their Horror Line is nothing short of miraculous. I’m not sure if Archie was ever cool, but I read the hell out of them as a kid. If they weren’t cool then, well they are now… and then some.

As for artists, I still can’t get enough of Francesco Francavilla and his old school, pulp-influenced draftsmanship. He’s the real freaking deal and I bow before his immaculate artistry.


More Occult Detective Awards tomorrow…
oh, and
Happy New Year!

The End of the World: Occult Detective Awards Edition

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags on December 21, 2012 by Occult Detective

And so, with the Winter Solstice and the “Mayan Apocalypse” upon us, the Third Annual Occult Detective Awards come to a close. All of this “end of the world” talk has given birth to some rather dark thoughts inside my head; a head that, to be completely honest, is already predominately preoccupied with such matters. Still, one wonders, were the “end” to truly come, what stories would we most like to embrace before they’re taken from us and we’re carried off into oblivion?

With a bottle of Scotch on hand, and a battery of  Gurkha Templar Grand Master cigars at the ready, I would settle onto the wooden bench beneath Connor’s Fort and lose myself in A Witch Shall Be Born and The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard, Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and Chapters 4: “A Journey in the Dark” and 5: “The Bridge of Khazad-dum” of Book 2 from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien.

But the world will not be ending, not today anyway. But the light will go out for each and every one of us in time. Life is a precious thing, so short and fleeting.

It has been a joy this past week sharing with you the stories that have thrilled and inspired me over the course of 2012. I hope that I’ve perhaps been able to turn you onto something you might have missed.

2012 is all but over now, the holy days are upon us and 2013 rears its monstrous head with the promise of more tales to be devoured.

May this Blessed Yule Season find you Well and True.

Day Four of the 3rd Annual Occult Detective Awards

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2012 by Occult Detective

Four days into the Third Annual Occult Detective Awards and we’re getting down to the meat of it. As if you couldn’t tell, I read a lot. Not nearly as much as I once did, but I still managed to pore through nearly 80 books this year.

Best Novel

ENTOMBED by Brian Keene

“The dead are determined sons of bitches.” I’m not a fan of zombie fiction. Never have been. Doubt I ever will be. So how the hell did a “zombie novel” make it all the way to the top of the heap of  novels I read this year? By being one vicious, claustrophobic, psychologically draining mother fucker, that’s how. Keene does not write elegant prose, stitching together poetic words that elevate literature. He spins a yarn that punches you in your stupid face, drags you through the blood and mud and holds your head up to a mirror and makes you take a long hard look at yourself.

Best Novella

TORN by Lee Thomas

Read my review of Torn HERE

Best Short Story


Cullen Bunn’s love letter to Hallowe’en struck just the right chord with me. It’s my favorite day of the year. Bunn’s too, I imagine. There’s a definite homage to Bradbury here, something the author readily admits in a post-story note to readers, but in the end, it’s Bunn doing what Bunn does best. There’s a true sense of loss and real heart in Come Again, Halloween, but there’s also a shovelful of dread that will satisfy anyone with a thirst for such things.

Best Collection


Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire’s collection of Lovecraft-inspired fiction is quite simply — brilliant. Pugmire is in his element, with delicious prose that pays homage to Lovecraft’s literary legacy, along with that of many other literary heroes, but the heart of these works is all his own. From “Gathered Dust”, his inspiringly provocative sequel to J.V. Shea’s “The Haunter in the Graveyard”, to his spot-on delivery of H.P. Lovecraft’s Richard Upton Pickman and Robert E. Howard’s Justin Geoffrey in “Depths of Dreams and Madness”, the author’s words are pure poetry, dripping from his pen with an alluring decadence and infernal eloquence, I wholeheartedly encourage the purchase of this collection by anyone and everyone who appreciates clever, unique, and atmospheric fiction that not only honors Lovecraft, but redefines it.

Best Anthology

OCCULT DETECTIVE STORIES, VOL. ONE: A CAT OF NINE TALES edited by Tracy DeVore and Thaddeus Sexton

I had a hand in this one, tackling the art chores for Rookhaven Publishing and offering up an introduction of sorts, so there’s a part of me that thought I should pass A Cat of Nine Tales over as best anthology, but the heart wants what the heart wants. This one’s so bloody good. Four classic occult detective tales, from H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Algernon Blackwood, and Aleister Crowley, are joined with fresh takes from five superb storytellers — William Meikle, Greg Mitchell, Christine Morgan, Joshua Reynolds, and Steven Shrewsbury — in this outstanding collection that does the genre proud.

Best Audio Series

EDICT ZERO-FIS by Jack Kincaid and Slipgate Nine

With a deep and rich mythology and insanely compelling characters, Edict Zero-FIS is a crowning achievement in audio serials. The production values are brilliant, with a perfect marriage of sound effects, music, panning, and voice acting that makes this something really special. Best of all, the story itself is complex, labyrinthine science fiction that blends elements of a police procedural and psychological drama. Think Fringe meets NYPD Blue on the set of Blade Runner. If you’re not listening, you bloody well should be.

Best Audio Short


My son and I gave Click-Clack the Rattlebag a listen a few days before Hallowe’en and were both equally thrilled and chilled by Neil Gaiman’s expert narration and masterful telling. Absolutely love love loved it. What a perfect seasonal treat, honoring one of my favorite causes — All Hallow’s Read.

Best Occult Detective of 2012


(The Jake Helman Files, Vol. 4 — Tortured Spirits / October 2012, Medallion Press)

Gregory Lamberson’s Jake Helman series kicks all kinds of ass. There. I said it. Personal Demons. Desperate Souls. Cosmic Forces. Tortured Spirits. And coming next year — Storm Demon. What do you need to know about Jake Helman? He’s a hard-boiled, tough as nails private investigator who so far has battled everything from demons to Lovecraftian beasties and worse. Last year, in my review of Cosmic Forces I said “Greg Lamberson is the most cinematic author writing today and The Jake Helman Files are nothing short of the most awesome movies that have not been filmed yet.” I stand by those words.

Occult Detective Classic

SPECTRE by Robert Weverka

One of my most prized possessions. My wife snagged this for me this year after I’d been searching for it since the late 70’s. Weverka’s novelization of Gene Roddenberry’s failed tv pilot is wonderfully written, capturing the spirit of the episode but adding depth to an already rich and compelling story. Occult Detective William Sebastian, a world renowned criminologist, along with his comrade in arms, Dr. Hamilton, travels to England to confront the demon Asmodeus. It really doesn’t get any better than that. The pilot is one of my favorite tv movies, and the book is more than equal to it. Hard to find, and quite costly when you do, but worth every penny.

The 3rd Annual Occult Detective Awards Continue — Day 3

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags on December 19, 2012 by Occult Detective

With my most heartfelt apologies, I’m a bit under the weather today, so today’s list will be quick and dirty.

Best Returning Series

FRINGE — Parallel universes, alternate timelines, weird science – these are what make Fringe a truly unique television series, but as the show draws to a close, Fringe found heart, catapulting it from something cool to something wondrous.

Best New Series

666 PARK AVENUE — While 666 managed to captivate me, unfortunately the rest of America did not follow suit. A quirky blend of Rosemary’s Baby and The Devil’s Advocate, 666 had a stellar cast, a beautiful set, and, for me, the beginnings of a strange and dark mythology that had lots of promise. Cancelled far too soon.

Best Hallowe’en Special

MOCKINGBIRD LANE — Developed as a tv series for NBC by Bryan Fuller, the network ultimately passed, instead opting to air the pilot as a Hallowe’en special, and man, am I glad they did. I was skeptical of this reimagining at first, but Fuller delivered an instant classic, with spectacular visuals, a fascinating storyline, and some killer acting from an inspired cast. Disappointed Mockingbird Lane didn’t go to series, but the pilot is one I’ll revisit whenever Samhain rears its monstrous head.

Best Episode

FRINGE S05E09 “BLACK BLOTTER” — Dr. Walter Bishop drops acid. Hilarity ensues, including a riff on Monty Python and a sampling of Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man. Nuff said.

Best Actor

TERRY O’QUINN (666 PARK AVENUE) — O’Quinn is brilliant in everything he does. As the devilish Gavin Doran, the actor simply did what he does best… and nobody does it better. Quick, someone get this guy another show, pronto.

Best Actress

JESSICA LANGE (AMERICAN  HORROR STORY: ASYLUM) — Speaking of brilliant, Lange’s Sister Jude is another remarkable character given life by her consummate skills.

Best Movies of 2012









02. THE HOBBIT — a quick note here… The Hobbit was incredible and only falls to number 2 on the list because of two glaring missteps: The Storm Giant sequence and the raucous, over-the-top goblin battle that descended into camp. Otherwise, a perfect picture. I enjoyed many of the other additions, particularly Radagast.


Day 2 of the 3rd Annual Occult Detective Awards — Esoterica

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags on December 18, 2012 by Occult Detective

Today we delve into my picks for the Best Esoterica of 2012. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to pore over a lot of occult material. I’ve been a lifelong collector and have made a number of contacts that puts me in the position to review a veritable mountain of new releases from some of the top publishers in the field. Here are my selections of what was the cream of this year’s crop —

Best Occult Release

THE BEST OF THE EQUINOX, VOL. ONE: ENOCHIAN MAGICK by Aleister Crowley and Lon Milo DuQuette — Read my review HERE

Best Autobiography

IN THE CENTER OF THE FIRE: A MEMOIR OF THE OCCULT by James Wasserman — Read my review HERE

Best Paranormal Release

THE HAUNTED MANSION PROJECT: YEAR ONE by Rain Graves and E.S. Magill — Read my review HERE

Best Esoterica Review Site

FREEMAN”S REVIEWS — Freeman Presson is one of those rare individuals that mixes a warm sense of humor with a rapier-like intellect. We met via twitter, of all places, through our mutual following of Weiser Books, whose tweets at the time were helmed by the lovely and talented Lisa Trudeau (whom I miss terribly). Freeman and I both entered into the Weiser stable of book reviewers and I was immediately taken by his often entertaining and always brilliant dissection of the books they would send him. I strongly encourage you to visit Freeman’s Reviews often. His reasoned critiques will serve you well.

Best Esoteric Website/Blog

LAShTAL —, home of the Aleister Crowley Society, is a website devoted to the Great Beast’s legacy and the impact of Crowley and Thelema on media, news and culture. Shepherded by Paul Feazey, LAShTAL is the premiere website for all things related to Crowleyana, with a wealth of reviewable material and an active forum that is populated by an intelligent and diverse membership, including some very prominent Thelemites and Esotericists.

Best Esoteric Podcast

THELEMA NOW — I was never all that interested in podcasts and call-in shows, but Frater Puck’s Thelema NOW changed all that. Officially sanctioned by the OTO, Thelema NOW is the creme de la creme predominately because of Puck’s relaxed interviewing style, a parade of interesting and intriguing guests, and poignant, stimulating subject matter. Of course there are frequent discussions of Crowley and Magick, but Thelema NOW also tackles music, literature, art, and history with equal fervor.

Vulgo Adeptus

IBIS PRESS — This year’s Top Publisher Award goes to Ibis Press. With titles such as Wasserman’s In the Center of the Fire, Levenda’s Ratlines and The Angel and the Sorcerer, Slavenberg’s The Hermetic Link, plus historically significant rereleases of books such as Pythagoras: his Life and Teachings, Ibis has made a considerable contribution to esoteric publishing. Distributed by Red Wheel/Weiser, Ibis is based out of Lake Worth, Florida and has an enviable catalogue of available titles, many of which grace the shelves in my home library, such as Barbara Black Koltuv’s underrated Book of Lilith and Karen Ralls’ Sacred Doorways.

The Ghostbreaker Award for Excellence in the Televised Research and Investigation of the Strange and Unusual

DEALS FROM THE DARKSIDE — I’m a sucker for reality shows like Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Storage Wars, and the like. What better then, considering my even greater interest in esoterica, a show that delves into dark relics? Exactly. Deals from the Darkside follows extreme escape artist Steve Santini, his pal Biker Bob, and researcher Stef, in their quest to authenticate and purchase everything from a pair of Houdini’s handcuffs to an authentic executioner’s sword. Toss in occasional visits to psychics, witches, and curators of the bizarre and you’ve got a hit show on your hands — at least in my house.

And thus ends Day Two fo the Occult Detective Awards. Be sure to tune in Wednesday for my top TV & Movie picks, Thursday for my favorites in Literature, and Friday… Well, Friday will be something altogether different.

The Third Annual Occult Detective Awards Begin… NOW

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags on December 17, 2012 by Occult Detective



We shall begin, my friends, this third installment of the increasingly esoteric and schizophrenic Occult Detective Awards by first looking into the world of four colours, where words and pictures converge in a sublime, brackish cesspool of innovation and creation. Arguably in its final death throes as producers of monthly pamphlets of wonder, the comic industry as a whole suffers from an aging audience and a lack of true vision beyond the snatch and grab of the event fueled buck. It saddens me. I’ve been a comic fan since before I entered the public school system, learning to read from the writings of such luminaries as Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Archie Goodwin, among others. But we are not here to bemoan the crumbling infrastructure of a once mighty empire of imagination, but instead to celebrate that which still strikes our fancy… or at least mine anyway. Your own mileage may vary.

Time to pass out the trophies. Drum roll, if you please:

Best Ongoing Series

HELLBLAZER — Peter Milligan has done the unthinkable, he has, in 2012, made John Constantine and Hellblazer relevant again. Not that sales necessarily reflect this, but from a fan stand point, Hellblazer has been consistently top notch entertainment, adding depth and poignancy to a character that’s had more than its fair share of up and downs in its nearly 300 issue run. With its scheduled cancellation, Hellblazer is in fact, going out with a bang, as they say, and I couldn’t be happier for it.

Best Graphic Novel

CRIMINAL MACABRE: THE IRON SPIRIT — Not familiar with Criminal Macabre? Well, that’s a problem that needs to be immediately addressed; and what better place to start than with The Iron Spirit. Our protagonist is a burned out wretch by the name of Cal McDonald, who also happens to be a talented occult detective, albeit one who is drug-fueled and alcohol-infused. McDonald’s adventures take place in a not-so-alternate reality where cornucopia of fiendish beasties, including demons, ghouls, and ghosts, are commonplace. What sets The Iron Spirit apart from previous McDonald misadventures is the absolutely gorgeous artwork from Scott Morse, and a truly heartfelt and poignant story penned by Criminal Macabre creator Steve Niles. I’ve not missed a single Cal McDonald outing, be it comic or prose, and this one is the crowning achievement in the series. When a military weapons project goes wrong, it’s up to Cal to set things right, in classic Criminal Macabre fashion. I recommend this one highly, whether you’re a longtime fan or looking to dip your toes in for the very first time.

Best Mini-Series

ALABASTER: WOLVES — Aunt Beast herself, the spectacular Caitlín R. Kiernan, reinvents Dancy Flammarion, a sixteen-year-old monster hunter tasked with killing beasties by Heaven, for Dark Horse comics in this superb five issue mini-series. Beautifully lettered and illustrated by Steve Lieber, with delicious color work from Rachelle Rosenberg, Alabaster: Wolves is pure alchemy that should not be missed.

Best Collection

FATALE, BOOK ONE: DEATH CHASES ME — Collecting the first five issues of this groundbreaking series, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Fatale is hard-boiled Noir at its finest, conjuring up a thrilling fusion of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and Raymond Chandler, and illustrated like the best crime and horror comics of the golden age.

Best Comic

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: CENTURY: 2009 — What the hell was that? Genius, that’s what. Alan Moore. Kevin O’Neill. Really, do I need to say more? Not for the faint of heart, this final chapter in the third volume of the LoEG saga is breathtaking, mind-blowing, and bloody brilliant on so many levels. Moore is an unmitigated madman and O’Neill his surrealistic co-conspirator in what is a truly whirlwind of an experience.

Best Writer

CULLEN BUNN — Every one of the writers attached to the books above would be deserving of this year’s honor. Milligan. Kiernan. Brubaker. Niles. Alan freaking Moore. But here it is, Cullen Bunn has elevated himself to be the go to guy in my book. His work on titles such as Fear Itself, Wolverine, and of course, the brilliant weird western that is The Sixth Gun has shown that he is a writer to be reckoned with. 2013 looks to be even brighter for him. Mark my words. Bunn’s the real deal.

Best Artist

MIKEL JANIN — This Spaniard has dazzled me with his work on DC Comics’ Justice League Dark. Able to perfectly marry European-style photo-realism with American-style cartooning, Janin has been, in a very short time, the stand-out artist in the New 52 line. With a background in architecture, Janin’s distinct line work and attention to detail is nothing short of brilliant and I look forward to following his career for many years to come.

Stand-Out Publisher of the Year

DARK HORSE COMICS — Sure, they’ve had a couple of misfires (I’m looking at you Conan), but all in all, Dark Horse’s stable is a breath of fresh air. Criminal Macabre. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. Alabaster. The Buffyverse. Ghost. The Goon. Billy the Kid. And much more… Occult Detectives and the Horror genre are alive and well at Dark Horse. They are consistent, reliable, and know which side of their bread is buttered. While the Top Two keep churning out their mega-events, crossovers, and headline grabbing relaunches, Dark Horse just keeps doing what it does best — delivering kick ass comics by some of the best creators in the business.

And that’s it for the first day of our week long event. Tune in tomorrow as we tackle a more weighty subject — esoterica — as the Third Annual Occult Detective Awards continue.

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