WITCH HUNTS and Facebook

Adventures in Censorship
A blog post by Rocky Wood, 29 May 2013

On Tuesday US time Facebook notified Lisa Morton, Greg Chapman and myself that the Facebook page for our graphic novel, ‘Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times’ had been suspended as someone had complained it contained ‘bullying’. We could appeal. Lisa did so. Without any further communication the page was deleted for not matching ‘community standards’ and to top it all off we were all banned as owners of the page from posting on Facebook for 12 hours.

I have fought censorship all my life and now this insult from a faceless corporation which shelters behind US law but has no respect for the First Amendment. There was nothing on our page which is not in our book. We deal with an historic tragedy – the torture and killing of innocents for centuries under the guise of ‘witch hunting’. Our book is a nominee for a major literary Award from a highly reputable writers group. And not one post one our page could be classed as ‘bullying’ anyone, except perhaps the long dead inquisitors and witch hunters who so savagely hunted ‘witches’ (read those cast out of society, those who lands or wealth were coveted, and those who fell under the dead eye of jealous neighbors).

One encounters soft core porn, outrageous personal abuse, bullying, misogyny, misanthropy, racism, hate speech from and against Christians, Muslims and other groups on Facebook without even trying. Facebook infests my News Feed with ads for sex sites and ‘dating sites’ that are clearly a cover for porn, and invites me to Like or get involved with many things that offend me. Yet I accept this is part of free speech on social media. I have been abused and personally vilified on Facebook – my answer is to delete and block the person. I don’t run to momma and cry on her apron strings.

But here is the real nub of the matter. Why was this page deleted? Did one crazy person complain and if so, are all our pages at risk from lone vigilantes supported by this faceless corporation, which clearly uses algorithms rather than people to manage its business? Is Horror itself at risk in Facebook (for much horror is a lot more graphic than our book)? Is History that doesn’t suit the world view of some at risk on Facebook? Or can say one author who doesn’t like another author or their work sabotage their pages in this manner? I wouldn’t expect that was what had happened here but what’s to stop that in the 1984 world of  Facebook?

How far is it from Facebook deleting innocuous pages such as ours to book banning, and book burning? That slope is very slippery. I unreservedly condemn Facebook’s capricious actions, lack of transparency in dealing with complaints, and the outrageous censorship they have indulged in.

Barely two weeks before a book I am very proud of is a nominee at a major Award ceremony the Facebook page is removed. There is more than a little irony in Facebook figuratively burning our page at the stake. For those who care about Censorship I would appreciate your sharing this story. For this who support our book, please be sure we will be back. In the meantime our website remains at http://www.witchhuntsbook.com/ (at least until such time as Facebook or other Internet censors find a way to remove it).

Shame on you Facebook. And the next time you spam me with your offensive ads or try to force me to spend money promoting my own posts you can be sure of my reaction.

Rocky Wood
Melbourne, Australia

Witch Hunts nominated for Bram Stoker Award®!

Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®, the official award of the Horror Writers Association , which is recognized as the pre-eminent Award in horror literature!

Witch Hunts, written by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton and illustrated by Greg Chapman, has been nominated in the Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel category, with the list nominees announced by the Horror Writers Association on February 23.

The three collaborators expressed their delight at the news yesterday:

Rocky said: “I am proud to receive this important recognition from the Horror Writers Association. I’ve written non-fiction for 35 years, but Witch Hunts is only my third piece of published fiction, so to receive such a prestigious nomination for it is indeed an honour. I have to say the combination with Lisa’s writing and Greg’s outstanding artwork simply proves that outstanding teamwork can deliver superior results, so greater credit is due to them.”

Lisa said: “It’s hard to top having a teacher tell you that she’s using your book to teach young people about discrimination…but this acknowledgement is certainly a lovely icing on the Witch Hunts cake. My deepest thanks to Rocky, who created this project in the first place, our extraordinary artist Greg, and all of our editors at McFarland.”

Greg said: “To have Witch Hunts nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® is wonderful, but to have worked with Rocky and Lisa, two of the most respected people in the horror genre, was the real honour. I will always be proud of the graphic novel we created, not just because it was my first, but because it’s an important book and one that has a lot to say.

The Bram Stoker Awards® will be announced at a gala ceremony during the Bram Stoker Awards Weekend®, incorporating World Horror Convention in New Orleans on June 15.

To see all the nominees for the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards® visit HERE.

Copies of Witch Hunts can be purchased from McFarlandAmazon and all other good booksellers.

Stephen King highlights Witch Hunts co-author Rocky Wood’s assistance on The Shining sequel “Doctor Sleep”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, bestselling author Stephen King has publicly acknowledged Rocky Wood for his input on “Doctor Sleep”, the soon-to-be-released sequel to The Shining!

Rocky has authored numerous non-fiction books on Stephen’s career and has even unearthed several previously lost stories.

You can learn more about Rocky’s King books at his official website www.rockywoodauthor.com

Here’s a snippet of Mr King’s interview with EW:

Is it distracting to have to think about little details like that when writing a book?
I have a friend, a guy from Australia named Rocky Wood who’s read everything I’ve written and he’s done a couple books about my stuff. He’s a very close reader, and I actually hired him to read Doctor Sleep to point out all the stuff I got wrong. He came back with a list of 40 or 50 things, including that I’d had Danny remembering his father knocked out Dick Halloran’s teeth with a roque mallet. So Rocky comes back and says, ‘Actually, Dick Halloran had dentures.’

What a mind.
I’m not sure I want to have that mind. [Laughs.]

You can read the full interview HERE

Rocky Wood’s official website launched!

Rocky Wood, co-author of Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, has unveiled his official personal website at http://www.rockywoodauthor.com/

As well as information on Witch Hunts, you can learn about Rocky’s award-winning Stephen King books, profiling some of the best-selling authors obscure and lost works and  also his first graphic novel, Horrors! Great Tales of Fear and their Creators, illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne and also published by McFarland.

Rocky’s site was designed by Rick Pickman.

Witch Hunts makes Creature Feature’s Top Ten of 2012!

We’re honored that Creature Feature has chosen Witch Hunts as one of its Top Ten books of 2012. We’re in the company of books by these amazing talents: Elizabeth Bear, Bruce Boston, Mort Castle, Gary William Crawford, Ellen Datlow, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Elizabeth Massie, Joe McKinney, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Joshua Skye, Sam Weller, and Terri Windling. We couldn’t be prouder (special thanks to J. L. Comeau).

Witch Hunts – The Missing Pages

Over the course of about 14 months from October 2010 to November 2011 I illustrated roughly 200 pages for the graphic novel Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, authored by Bram Stoker Award Winners Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton.

The graphic novel was published by McFarland and so far has received much critical acclaim of which I am most humbled. It was a lot of work, particularly given the fact that I had to draw the entire book in the evenings and on weekends due to my full time job.

Page 2
Page 1

It was an amazing challenge taking Rocky and Lisa’s scripts and interpreting their words and descriptions onto the page. About 99% of my illustrations made the grade but there were some pages and drawings which didn’t suit and were left out or altered.

For those interested in seeing how the book was pieced together, I propose to show you some of the missing pages and the original five pages used as a pitch to the publisher way back in October 2010. Also included is an image of all the rough pages I drew and even a completely different cover to the one that was ultimately published:

Page 3

These pages are from the original proposal to McFarland. The page 2 you see here is nothing like the one that was ultimately published. It was the problem page, but it was also in my opinion the most important page in the book. It was a page intended to summarise what the graphic novel was about. The problem arose because there was a lot of text and I was trying to be creative and it just didn’t work. This page was a still being adjusted right up until the deadline.

Page 4

The other issue is that I was initially responsible for the placement of text – thankfully McFarland took this over. Not that I wasn’t capable, but I really needed to concentrate on the art rather than adding the text on the computer. The interesting thing about pages 3, 4 and 5 is that a lot of the panels you see here were ultimately redrawn as larger versions. I was thinking too small and the opening chapter of the book had to be expanded to seven pages.

Obviously McFarland liked the pitch, but we had to go back to the drawing board and think big. We decided that it would be easier to have more full page illustrations to cater for the text. I felt the text was just as crucial in the telling of this book – just as much as my illustrations. Yes, some editing was done but I think there were still some 20,000 words in the book.

Page 5

This page, page 5, one of my favourite pages from the book, was changed a little at McFarland’s suggestion. Vines were added to separate the Adam and Eve from the peeping monk panel, but I also wanted to tie the two ‘realms’ together and ended up drawing the maidservant holding Adam’s hand.

All in all the five page proposal was a very exciting challenge that dictated how the rest of the graphic novel would look. I wanted to capture that medieval engraving/etching look and I’m glad I ended up going with this style.

The Missing Pages!

This is a page from chapter six where de la Case kills Master Jehan for accusing his daughters of witchcraft. The issue with this page was that I wasn’t depicting the “blow” de la Case delivered properly. It took a few roughs before I got it right.

The third rough captured it as it was intended.

Other pages that were changed….

The page above here was changed because while you could see the man being tortured with the claw-like device, you couldn’t see who was doing it so I had to redraw it. The meeting between the man and the two witches also didn’t look sinister enough. The final page (right) actually turned out much better as I was able to merge the two different scenes into one so the reader’s eye could travel smoothly from top to bottom. 

The original page 2 from the Valais chapter
The final version of page 2

This page had to be completely redrawn as well because the intended focus was all wrong. In the first version I made the criminal prominent when it should have been the man and his wife in the foreground. This was simply a case of me misinterpreting the script.

It was a bit of a shame having to redraw it because I particularly liked how the soldiers clothes turned out.

The Evolution of a Cover

And finally there’s the cover. I knew from the outset that I wanted to depict a witch being burned at the stake. At the very beginning of the project I drew this image:

We all liked this image but over time we realised that the drawing of the woman was being lost in the flame (no pun intended there, I promise) so it was back to drawing board.

The next image was of the younger woman again, but in more of a full length body shot:

The overall image was liked, but it was agreed that the woman wasn’t “witchy” enough and I was asked to make her much older. By this stage I had already inked the final image! But all it took was a little white gouache and the final cover was done!

Anyway I hope you all enjoyed reading about the evolution of Witch Hunts. If you’d like to purchase a copy you can find it via the following links:

Direct from the publisher – McFarland

Amazon

The Book Depository

You can also check out our Facebook page!

We hope you enjoy reading it as much we all enjoyed creating it!

Witch Hunts’ co-author Lisa Morton spreads the word about Halloween!

Lisa Morton’s latest book Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is garnering considerable media attention and awards in the lead-up to Halloween.

Lisa was interviewed by Mark Frauenfelder for boingboing.net’s Gweek segment, where she talked about the origins of Halloween and even dispelled a few myths about the meaning of the holiday.

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is Lisa’s second non-fiction Halloween book and it certainly has further cemented her reputation as the “Queen of Halloween”. The book is currently #1 in Amazon’s Holiday category.

Lisa was recently named the winner of the General Non-Fiction book category at the 2012 Halloween Book Festival in Hollywood, California.

For more information about Lisa visit her website at www.lisamorton.com

 

Witch Hunts collaborators’ latest creations

Witch Hunts isn’t the only book Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton and Greg Chapman have doing the rounds.

Rocky is known around the world as one of the top experts on best-selling author Stephen King, and his latest work, Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished was revised and updated. Published by The Overlook Connection Press, the book includes updates on fiction and screenplays by King and King himself actually had input into the edition.

 

 

 

 

Lisa Morton has also expanded her library of works with a new fiction and non-fiction title, being released, just in time for Halloween.

Trick of Treat: A History of Halloween was just published by Reaktion Books, further cementing her reputation as the “Queen of Halloween.

In Trick or Treat, Halloween aficionado Lisa Morton provides a thorough history of this spooky day. She begins by looking at how holidays like the Celtic Samhain, a Gaelic harvest festival, have blended with the British Guy Fawkes Day and the Catholic All Souls’ Day to produce the modern Halloween, and she explains how the holiday was reborn in America, where costumes and trick-or-treat rituals have become new customs. Morton takes into account the influence of related but independent holidays, especially the Mexican Day of the Dead, as well as the explosion in popularity of haunted attractions and the impact of such events as 9/11 and the economic recession on the celebration today.

Bad Moon Books is also taking pre-orders for Lisa’s latest fiction work Hell Manor. Here’s a  taste of the story:

Jack Lichtner is the genius behind Hell Manor, America’s most successful Halloween haunted house. Mazes, scare zones, live actors, special effects, crazy gore…Hell Manor’s got it all. But Jack gets in over his head when he hires Maeve, a mysterious woman with a penchant for bloody magic and murderous kin who want her back. This Halloween, Jack must use all his powers of illusion to fight off the real magic of the ancient tricksters who have invaded Hell Manor.

 

And finally Greg Chapman latest novella, Vaudeville is also available in e-book format from Dark Prints Press.

Young Anthony Moore is desperate to discover the truth about his father’s death. In Keaton Woods, the truth is waiting for him, held by vengeful demons. “The All-American Travelling Troubadours” have a dark story to perform – all they need is an audience of four young souls. Anthony is about to discover just what he is willing to sacrifice in order to seek answers.

Vaudeville is a coming-of-age horror tale, touching on themes of grief, loneliness and the darkest days of the American Civil War, from one of dark fiction’s rising stars, Greg Chapman.

So, if you enjoyed Witch Hunts, then you’re going to love these latest works from Rocky, Lisa and Greg. The perfect Halloween gifts!

 

Witch Hunts authors get into the Halloween spirit!

Witch Hunts co-authors Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton have shared their views on horror writing and Halloween as part of the Horror Writers Association’s “Halloween Haunts” extravaganza over at www.horror.org

Lisa Morton, a highly regarded expert on Halloween, dispelled some myths on Halloween in her post and offered writers some tips on using Halloween myths and history in their fiction.

You can read her post HERE.

Lisa also has some new releases pending – her new Halloween book “Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween” and a new Halloween-themed horror novella “Hell Manor”.

Rocky Wood, has talked about his writing career, particularly his “never-ending” research on Stephen King and of course his forays into writing for graphic novels.

Read Rocky’s post HERE

Witch Hunts artist Greg Chapman has also written a post for Halloween Haunts and it will feature in the coming weeks. Greg also created the advertising artwork for Halloween Haunts and the HWA’s new blog banner.