Audra

  • Spooky House 1

    Warm up with your favorite pumpkin-spice beverage before getting a chill up your spine from these grisly graphic novels. 

    10.28 My Friend DahmerMY FRIEND DAHMER
    By Derf Backderf
    (2012)

    Though true crime is usually a little too real for my horror tastes, this comic focuses on both Jeffrey Dahmer and the people who grew up with him. Written by one of the boys who went to high school with Dahmer, the book manages to show the human side of a serial killer, while not shying away from the sadistic qualities that would make him a murder. 

     

    10.28 OutcastOUTCAST
    By Robert Kirkman
    Illustrated by Paul Azaceta
    (2014)

    In this comic, exorcism goes a little differently than in The Exorcist. Best known for his work on the Walking Dead comics, Robert Kirkman writes the chilling tale of a man’s battle against the demonic possessions that plague those anyone he comes in contact with. While supernatural, the comic also manages to explore the effects of real issues like childhood trauma and abuse. The comic was also adapted into a short-lived, but well-received tv series. 

     

    10.28 AjinAJIN: DEMI-HUMAN
    By Tsuina MiuraI
    llustrated by Gamon Sakurai
    (2014)

    An award-winning manga from Japan, this series takes place in a world where the general populace lives in fear of “ajins”: beings who look and act like normal humans. Just like normal people — except for the fact that they cannot die. One of the most visceral scenes is when, Kei, a normal high-schooler, finds out he is an ajin in the worst way possible — by getting run over by a truck. 

     

    10.28 Through the WoodsTHROUGH THE WOODS
    By Emily Carroll
    (2014)

    While the colors are vibrant, the stories are dark. Each tale in this spooky anthology reads like a dark fairy tale and is illustrated beautifully by the author, Emily Carroll. I have to put down that this is my personal favorite and a comic that I recommend to just about every person I meet.

     

     

  •  Horror on the Silver Screen

    Looking for a movie to send chills down your spine? While the horror genre has had some great films in recent history—from the Oscar-winning GET OUT, to the John Krasinski breakout, A QUIET PLACE—there have been many classic movies that have scared the pants off audiences. Here are some hits from yesteryear to get you in the mood for Halloween. 

    10.26 The InnocentsTHE INNOCENTS
    Directed by Jack Clayton
    (1961)

    Based on the American novel, THE TURN OF THE SCREW, this British adaptation combines everything you’d want in Victorian horror — haunted estates, women in distress, and creepy children. A woman becomes the governess to a young brother and sister who may be much more than they appear. Are the apparitions she sees real? In this film, you can never really trust what people say—or what they see. If you are a fan of modern gothic films like THE WOMAN IN BLACK or THE OTHERS, check out THE INNOCENTS. 

    Fun Fact: The screenplay for this film was worked on by Truman Capote, who took a break from his true crime classic, IN COLD BLOOD, to finish the movie script. 

     

    10.26 Abbott and CostelloABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
    Directed by Charles Barton
    (1948)

    If you are looking for some good scares and good laughs, check out Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Made after the heyday of monster movies like DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and THE WOLFMAN, this movie manages to put all of them into one story. The “Avengers” of Universal horror films, the film manages one of the first “crossover” plotlines, pitting each monster against one another or our protagonists.  

    Abbott and Costello both pull off one-liners with their usual skill, poking fun at the monsters while still allowing for some scary moments. The fear factor is helped by the fact that most of the creatures are played by their original actors—who are perfectly happy to howl, bite, and groan amid the jokes. My personal favorite is when Lon Chaney (the Wolfman) attempts to warn Costello over the phone about Dracula’s plot. Instead, Costello quickly becomes more and more irritated with Chaney’s “barking dog.” 

    If you enjoy this film, be sure to check out other Abbott and Costello horror crossovers, such as ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN. 

     

    10.26 Cape FearCAPE FEAR
    Directed by J. Lee Thompson
    (1962)

    This film was initially worked on by Alfred Hitchcock, before he passed it onto his colleague, J. Lee Thompson. One of the best thrillers of the 1950’s, it tells the story of how one ex-con terrorizes the family of the lawyer who sent him to prison. Robert Mitchum pits himself against the upright everyman, Gregory Peck—who was known for playing another famous lawyer in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  

    Mitchum manages to play both cold, calculating villain and out-of-control maniac. It is his personality that truly makes the audience fear for the lawyer’s family. This film would be made again in 1991 by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro in the ex-con role. However, if you are interested in other horror films that showcase Robert Mitchum’s talent, I recommend the beautiful and horrifying THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

     

    10.26 The HauntingTHE HAUNTING
    Directed by Robert Wise
    (1963)

    Based on the 1959 book by Shirley Jackson, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, which is widely considered to be the scariest book ever written. Both the movie and its classic film adaptation tell the story of four people invited to investigate not a house that is “haunted,” but is rather “diseased,” with a mind of its own. We soon realize the disturbing effect it has on each person who stays there, including the poor, lonely Eleanor.  

    This film came out just 4 years after the book’s initial publication and was directed by Robert Wise—who had just come off a successful adaptation of WEST SIDE STORY (and would later go on to direct THE SOUND OF MUSIC). Don’t let the director’s background in musicals fool you, this movie will certainly keep you up at night. This film truly takes to heart the old adage that what you don’t see is scarier than what you do. From great acting, to terrifying sound design, this movie will drag you down into the madness that has enveloped the people staying at Hill House.  

    In addition to the 1963 film, The Haunting of Hill House has had plenty of adaptations. These include a recent Netflix adaptation, of the same name, and a 1999 film with Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. (Despite the star-studded cast, please do not subject yourself to this film.)

     
  • Covering the Artists 

    Book illustration has always been a great love of mine. As I child, I was always taken in by these drawings, especially in the fairy tales I read. As I got older, and the books I read had less and less pictures, but I was still fascinated by the pictures found on the covers of the books I read. To this day, I definitely have a weakness for “judging a book by its cover.” Part of that weakness is because some of my favorite books had covers illustrated by the same artists who created the picture books I read as a child. In celebration of these books, I have compiled a list of the best illustrators whose work is enjoyed by readers of all ages.  

    Kinuko Y. Craft

    8.2 Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the BraveBABA YAGA AND VASILISA THE BRAVE
    By Marianna Mayer
    (1994) 

     

    8.2 Winter RoseWINTER ROSE
    By Patricia A. McKillip
    (1996)

    Also known professionally as K.Y. Craft, Kinuko studied fine arts in Ishikawa, Japan. After graduating in 1962, she moved to Chicago, studying and working at local design studios. Her work is heavily influenced by traditional European masters, as well as 19th century Romanticism and Symbolism. In addition to being published in magazines like Time, her work has also been displayed at the The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.  

     

    Trina Schart Hyman

    8.2 Hershel and the Hannukah GoblinsHERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS
    By Eric A. Kimmel
    (1989) 

     

    8.2 A Hidden MagicA HIDDEN MAGIC
    By Vivian Vande Velde
    (1985)

    One of the most applauded illustrators of her generation, Trina was awarded the Caldecott medal in 1984, the highest achievement for illustration in the U.S. She would go on to win three additional Caldecott awards for her work. Though she would also study at institutes in Boston and Stockholm, she was originally born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sadly, she passed away in 2004, but not without leaving a legacy of revered work.  

     

    Leo and Diane Dillon

    8.2 The People Could FlyTHE PEOPLE COULD FLY
    By Virginia Hamilton
    (2004) 

     

    8.2 AbhorsenABHORSEN
    By Garth Nix
    (2003)

    This husband and wife have worked together to create award-winning illustrations. Also awarded the Caldecott, they have the distinction of being the only consecutive winners — in 1976 and 1977. Each of their works is a collaboration between their styles. Occasionally, Lee Dillon, their son, a gifted sculptor, painter and craftsman, is also featured in their works.

     
  • gaiman

    With numerous book awards, best-selling comics, and multiple screenwriting credits under his belt, Neil Gaiman is one of the most widely recognized writers still living. You may be familiar with his Newbery-award winning THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, or the beloved STARDUST and CORALINE novels. Some may also be familiar with his SANDMAN comics or even his work with Terry Pratchett on GOOD OMENS.

    But this prolific author has many wonderful works that often go unnoticed. Here are a few of Neil Gaiman’s hidden gems. 

    2.14 InstructionsINSTRUCTIONS
    By Neil Gaiman
    Illustrated by Charles Vess
    (2010)

    A fun parody of literary tropes and cliches, walk through this fairy tale with detailed “instructions” on how to get a happily ever after. 

     

    2.14 A Study in EmeraldA STUDY IN EMERALD
    By Neil Gaiman
    (2003)

    One of Gaiman’s oddest short stories, it combines the fantastical monsters of H.P. Lovecraft with the logical world of Sherlock Holmes. Solve the murder of a Victorian “gentleman” in a London ruled by something other than human. 

     

    2.14 Norse MythologyNORSE MYTHOLOGY
    By Neil Gaiman
    Read by Neil Gaiman
    (2017)

    I particularly recommend the audiobook version of this collection of myths. While Gaiman reads, he is able to add humor and personality into familiar heros (and villains), like Thor, Odin and Loki. 

     

    2.14 The Books of MagicTHE BOOKS OF MAGIC
    By Neil Gaiman (along with John Ney Rieber and Peter Gross)
    Illustrated by John Bolton (along with Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, Paul Johnson, Peter Gross and Jason Temujin Minor)
    (1993)

    An often overlooked addition to Gaiman’s bibliography, this book introduces characters both from superhero comics and Gaiman’s own SANDMAN series. An interesting look at magic, fantasy and growing up. (And the art is great too.) 

     

    2.14 Unnatural CreaturesUNNATURAL CREATURES
    By Neil Gaiman
    (2013)

    Unlike the others on this list, Neil Gaiman is mainly the curator (rather the author) of these short stories. They represent a wide range of fantasy authors, from new authors to classics, including (of course) one of Neil Gaiman’s own stories. 

     
  • Cozy Fireplace Remote

    Post-Christmas blues? After the 25th, it can be hard to let go of the holidays. Here are a few not quite Christmas movies that still keep that December spirit alive.  

    1.7 The Lion the Witch and the WardrobeTHE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE
    Directed by Andrew Adamson
    (2005)

    A great take on the C.S. Lewis book, the wintery setting (and the fact that Santa Claus actually shows up in this film) make it a great pick for Christmas. Though for most of the movie it’s “always winter, but never Christmas” there are plenty of festive characters to enjoy. So sit down with some turkish delight and enjoy this reimagining of an old classic. 

     

    1.7 While You Were SleepingWHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
    Directed by Jon Turteltaub
    (1995)

    A romantic comedy, this film takes place actually takes place over several holidays. Sandra Bullock pretends to be the fiancee of the comatose man she saved, all while slowing falling for his brother. The fun family dynamics make this a great film to watch any time of the year. 

     

    1.7 Harry PotterHARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE
    Directed by Chris Columbus
    (2001)

    This movie takes place, of course, throughout an entire school year. But some of its most memorable scenes take place over the holiday break: from the delicious Christmas feasts, to Harry discovering his invisibility cloak and the Mirror of Erised. It also helps that television networks have made the movie a Christmas staple over the past few years. 

     

    1.7 Little WomenLITTLE WOMEN
    Directed by Gillian Armstrong
    (1994)

    Though this takes place over several years, its most enduring moments happen during Christmas. Enjoy this heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking, story of an American family as they experience life during and after the Civil War.

     
  • Headphones

    The past few years has seen the rise of podcasts. From solving cold cases, to chronicling every episode of the Gilmore Girls, there’s a show out there for everyone. And while it’s great to sit down and listen to an episode, sometimes I’m in the mood for a book. Lucky for me, some of my favorite podcasters have turned their creations into great reads. Here are a few great podcasts that just happen to be written down. 

    6.14 The World of LoreTHE WORLD OF LORE: MONSTROUS CREATURES
    By Aaron Mahnke
    (2017)

    Aaron Mahnke self-published several books before creating his breakout podcast, “Lore”. This book chronicles the strange, spooky, and absolutely true stories that made “Lore” not only a popular podcast, but tv series as well. Read through the real supernatural stories that haunt the chronicles of history. For more spine-tingling tales, check out the sequels, DREADFUL PLACES and WICKED MORTALS

     

    6.12 Here There Be GerblinsTHE ADVENTURE ZONE. HERE THERE BE GERBLINS
    By Clint McElroy

    The family that podcasts together, stays together. At least, that seems to be the case with Clint McElroy and his brothers, hosts and creators of such popular podcasts as “My Brother, My Brother and Me”, “Sawbones”, and many, many other shows. In this comic book adaptation of “The Adventure Zone”, the brothers join their father for a magical journey through a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Laugh, gasp and giggle as the family wades through a fantasy world filled with evil sorcerers, tea-drinking werewolves and goblin mines with terrible workplace comp. 

     

    6.12 Alice isnt DeadALICE ISN’T DEAD 
    By Joseph Fink
    (2018)

    Though Joseph Fink is known as the co-creator of the surreal, supernatural, “Welcome to Nightvale”, it’s his second go at podcasting that really shows off his storytelling skills. It chronicles the story of Keisha as she drives her semi truck cross-country, looking for her signs of her missing wife, Alice. As she drives she encounters strange and unusual happenings, which may or may not connect with Alice’s disappearance

     
  • Chains

    One of the hallmarks of African-American literature in the “slave narrative.” These are true biographical accounts of slaves who lived in the American South. Mostly they are written by the slaves themselves (such as NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS or INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL) giving a personal touch to each story. This, along with their experiences, make the storytelling distinctive and recognizable. Following the abolition of slavery, many African Americans have continued to write in this genre, calling it the “neo-slave narrative.” Mostly these new stories are fictional novels, but they take inspiration from real slave accounts, exploring the racial tensions and anxieties of this time period. Here are a few of the best in the genre: 

    3.25 KindredKINDRED 
    By Octavia Butler
    (1979)

    A black woman spontaneously travels back in forth in time: from her apartment in 1970’s Los Angeles to a slave-holding plantation in the early 1800’s. Things do not go well. Despite its fantastic premise, Butler did extensive research to prepare for this novel. From reading personal accounts, to actually visiting the plantations, her writing is based as much as possible on the historical experience of slaves. 

     

    3.25 BelovedBELOVED 
    By Toni Morrison
    (1987)

    This story was initially inspired by an article printed in a 1865, titled "A Visit to the Slave Mother who Killed Her Child.” Half-poem, half ghost-story, Morrison’s novel includes the hardest-hitting parts of slavery. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was even made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey. 

     

    3.25 Underground RailroadTHE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD 
    By Colson Whitehead
    (2016)

    One of the oddest takes on “historical fiction” that I’ve ever read. In this story, the “Underground Railroad” is just that, literally an underground train riding through the Antebellum South. Another Pulitzer Prize winner, this novel purposefully drifts away from reality, mixing facts with fantastical reimagings. Despite the intentional inaccuracies, the work still rings true, highlighting the terrible atrocities that did occur.