The “Introduction” that should have been…

Back in August 2012, Witch Hunts co-author Rocky Wood and illustrator Greg Chapman met in Melbourne and hosted a launch of the graphic novel at Notions Unlimited.

Rocky, who was already having difficulty speaking for long periods due to the debilitating affects of Motor Neurone Disease prepared a speech that we feel would have made the perfect Introduction to Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times.

Below is the text of Rocky’s speech, but please also take the time to view the video.

“Thanks everyone for coming. I’m sorry that the impact of Motor Neurone Disease means I can no longer speak publicly, so I get to rest while it is read for me.

Witch Hunts is a book with an interesting start in life. A couple of years ago McFarland (a fine niche publisher in the US, who specialise in non-fiction) and I were talking about a Stephen King book, which ultimately came out last year – Stephen King: A Literary Companion – and won the Bram Stoker Award, so I’m pretty proud of that. McFarland asked me if I would write a graphic novel to which my reply was something like “I don’t write fiction and I can’t draw, so why would you ask me?” They said they liked my factual style and thought there was a niche for fact-based graphic novels.

So, against all my qualms, I talked the fine Maine-based artist Glenn Chadbourne into illustrating a book that re-imagines what happened to the greats of 19th Century horror – Shelley, Poe and Stoker among them, in Horrors, which garnered an award nomination or two. All that proves is that as a writer you can – and should – challenge yourself and I now find myself writing award-nominated fiction after 35 years as a professional non-fiction writer.

When McFarland asked for another graphic novel I wanted very much to promote some Australian talent. Asking around the Australian horror community, one name kept coming up – Greg Chapman and once I saw his work and understood his work ethic, it was an easy choice.

I’m glad Greg can join us today for the signing. You’ll see in the book he’s a fine illustrator with great attention to historic detail, as well as bringing out the true horror that is the awful period in our history when we humiliated, tortured, burned and hanged women – and some men – for reasons that had almost nothing to do with so-called ‘witchcraft’. But of course you will have to read the book to learn all about that.

Greg is also a fine writer – an unusual combination – and his growing body of work promises a very interesting career in horror. He was a joy to work with, nothing was ever too much trouble and if you know Lisa Morton and I we are nothing if not, perfectionists.

A quick note on Lisa; she originally came on board to support me if my health failed and contributed her own take on the witch-hunt phenomenon. Well, she delivered in spades (or is that broom-sticks?). The chapter on King James alone is worth the price of admission.

Lisa is my Vice-President of the Horror Writers Association, perhaps the hardest-working colleague I have had in any endeavour and a fine writer – one whose mainstream breakthrough can’t be that far away – not to mention she is the world expert on Halloween.

So again, thank you all for coming, to Chuck for throwing this extravaganza and to Greg for flying all the way from sunny Rockhampton to the depths of a Melbourne winter.”

Witch Hunts graphic novel turns 3!

This week marks three years since Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times was first published by McFarland & Company.

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The graphic novel shed a light on the history of one of the darkest periods of human history, but also highlighted the fact that persecution based on religion and witchcraft is still ongoing in many parts of the world.

In the three years since publication, Witch Hunts has not only won a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel, but it was also used a required text for history students at a college in North America. It even caused some minor controversy on Facebook, of all places and ended up as a Jeopardy! category.

Rocky Wood, the originator of the project, sadly passed away last December after a courageous battle with Motor Neurone Disease or ALS. He’s left behind a significant legacy with Witch Hunts.

Co-author Lisa Morton and Illustrator Greg Chapman are immensely proud of the graphic novel and have been humbled by the praise it has received. It’s hoped Witch Hunts sits on shelves in bookshops, libraries and homes across the world for many more years to come.

If you’ve never read the graphic novel, we encourage you to consider picking up a copy in paperback or digital formats.

Witch Hunts features in Bram Stoker Awards category on JEOPARDY!

The graphic novel Witch Hunts was one of questions asked during a recent episode of the popular US game show, JEOPARDY!

The game show highlighted many other horror-themed books in a Bram Stoker Awards category, featured during a Double Jeopardy part of the game.

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You can watch a portion of the program below. (The Bram Stoker Awards question commence at around the 7 minute mark).

We think the late, great Rocky would not only have been very proud to see one of his works highlighted on JEOPARDY!, but the Bram Stoker Awards as well.

Rocky Wood 1959-2014

It is with much sadness that we announce the passing of Witch Hunts creator Rocky Wood.

Rocky passed away on December 1 in Melbourne, Australia due to complications from ALS, or Motor Neurone Disease, which he had been battling for four years.

The Horror Writers Association, of which Rocky was president, made the announcement yesterday.

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Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton and Greg Chapman

Rocky had only been diagnosed with ALS when the Witch Hunts project was first envisaged in 2010. It was his second graphic novel and it ultimately went on to win the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel in 2012.

Witch Hunts co-collaborators Lisa Morton and Greg Chapman are deeply saddened by Rocky’s loss, but are proud to have played a role in bringing arguably his most important non-fiction work to life. Rocky was also regarded as a leading expert on horror author Stephen King and published many books on the author’s work. We encourage you to visit Rocky’s website to learn more.

Rocky’s legacy and dedication to horror will live on through works like Witch Hunts and Rocky and Lisa were glad to have known him and worked with him so closely.

We encourage you also to make a donation to the ALSA or MND Australia for research into this terrible disease, which claims so many lives each year.

Rest in Peace Rocky.

Archaeological finds shine dark light on witch burials

Archaeologists have uncovered some terrible secrets about witch burials in Europe.

The latest, in Torryburn, on the south west Fife Coast, showed how people unceremoniously buried a suspected witch.

Read the full article HERE.

Our Witch Hunts graphic novel features Scottish witch trials, including the trials orchestrated by King James I of Scotland.

Meanwhile, another discovery in Italy, also involving a teenage girl, illustrates the brutality of superstitious people. You can read that article HERE.

New interview with Rocky Wood!

Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times co-author Rocky Wood has been interviewed by author Douglas D. Hawk, over at his blog.

In the interview, Rocky talks about his work on graphic novels, his Stephen King non-fiction and his battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS.

You can read the interview HERE.

Rocky was also recently featured as part of the ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” campaign, with the man himself, Stephen King putting himself in the firing line for Rocky. Rocky’s Witch Hunts collaborators, Lisa Morton and Greg Chapman, also participated and you can see their videos at the Witch Hunts Facebook page. Members of the Horror Writers Association and Australian Horror Writers Association, also offered Rocky their support by taking up the challenge.

Witch persecutions continue

Women around the world are still being persecuted as witches in this modern age as these two articles will attest.

Not unpredictably, the causes of these latest persecutions mirror those that Lisa, Greg and I examined in detail in Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times.

Read the articles in the Washington Post about persecutions in India and the New York Times opinion piece about the crimes that continue in developing nations.

The WITCH HUNTS creators finally meet!

Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton, and Greg Chapman – the two authors and the artist of Witch Hunts – finally met in person during the recent World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon. Rocky and Greg both flew all the way from Australia to the U.S., where they met up with Lisa for this shared portrait:

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Witch Hunts’ co-author discusses gender for Women in Horror Recognition Month

Rocky Wood, co-author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning graphic novel Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, and President of the Horror Writers Association, has been interviewed by Dark Media about the perception of female horror authors for Women In Horror Recognition Month.

Here is a sample from the interview:

DM: I read the Roundtable shortly after it was posted and there are some excellent points explored. It’s a great read for anyone wanting to see what the differing perspectives on sexism within the horror genre. Do you think women have a harder time gaining the same level of notoriety in the genre? If so, why do you think that is?

Rocky: Yes. I suspect there are a number of reasons which may be sourced back to reader perception, and through that to societal perception. In other words ‘equal rights’ has not fully reached the reader’s view of our genre. Many readers will simply skip up over a female name in a selection of horror works. I suspect that percentage is lessening somewhat as time passes but it is still a reality. Of course, many readers don’t care a whit about the gender of the author. Why do they do this? Because of the aforementioned perception that men write scary, and women write romantic (which is a crock, of course). Because many publishers understand this reader bias they will subconsciously or intentionally select more stories by men, in the hope of better sales. We also know that women submit their novels and shorter fiction in percentages way less than 50% of all submissions, more likely in the 15-25% range, so editors and publishers have less to choose from. That said, I believe most editors and publishers are acting ethically, I doubt there are large numbers of top notch novels and short stories by women that cannot find a home. We need more women writing in the genre, more submissions from them; and a more liberated and pro-active attitude from publishers and editors. I know both publishers and editors who seek out the best material from women, publish it, and get great sales.

You can read the rest of the interview HERE

Lisa Morton who also co-authored Witch Hunts is a multi-award winning author of horror. You can find out more about her work via her website – http://www.lisamorton.com

 

Witch Hunts trio to feature in Midnight Echo Magazine interview

Witch Hunts collaborators Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton and Greg Chapman will feature in an interview in the forthcoming tenth issue of the Australian Horror Writers Association‘s official fiction magazine, Midnight Echo.

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In the interview for the Magazine’s comics column, Pix & Panels, Mark Farrugia asks Rocky, Lisa and Greg detailed questions on the creation of Witch Hunts and its recent win at the Bram Stoker Awards.

Here is an excerpt from the interview (published with permission by Midnight Echo):

P&P: Given that all three of you have had success in your other creative and literary endeavours, what’s the appeal of the graphic novel? 

Greg:  For me the obvious appeal of the graphic novel was to showcase my illustrative skills. I’d already had some success with my writing and the chance to illustrate a graphic novel as important as Witch Hunts was simply too good an opportunity to pass up. 

Rocky: The original appeal of writing a graphic novel for me was two-fold – one, a chance to write published fiction (to date I have almost exclusively written non-fiction, and have only one short story published); and secondly to challenge myself with a new format of writing. To a degree in non-fiction “more is more” – good facts and anecdotes fill a non-fiction book and often the more the better (avoiding repetition of course). In a graphic novel, in writing terms “less is more”. I had to learn to let the illustrations (and my ‘direction’ for them) tell the story. There are only so many words that can go with a panel – narration and dialogue – to move the story along. Too much, and you destroy the effect, not to mention that there are space constraints!

Lisa: I love graphic novels as a reader. Alan Moore is up there as one of my favourite authors in any genre, and I believe some of the world’s most interesting writing is now happening in the graphic novel and young adult fields. As a screenwriter, the graphic novel format feels familiar to me and I’d wanted to try one for a long time. And yes, I’d love to try more.

Issue 10 of Midnight Echo Magazine is available for pre-order now and is expected to be published by before the end of the year.

The issue also features the final chapter of Mark Farrugia’s and Greg Chapman’s vampire comic Allure of the Ancients and Chapman’s fiction tale “Mother’s House”

Be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine to read the in-depth interview on Witch Hunts!